Iran halts execution of three young men over November protests

Move comes after one of the men’s lawyers requests retrial and millions protest online using hashtag #DontExecute.

This photo released by the Iranian Students'' News Agency, ISNA, shows a gas station that was burned during protests that followed authorities'' decision to raise gasoline prices, in Tehran, Iran, Sunda
The demonstrations erupted on November 15, 2019, after authorities more than doubled fuel prices overnight [File: AP Photo]

Iran has halted the execution of three young men linked to the deadly protests in November last year sparked by an increase in petrol prices.

“We conveyed a request [for a retrial] to the Supreme Court and they have accepted it. We hope the verdict will be overturned,” Babak Paknia, lawyer of one of the accused, told the AFP news agency on Sunday.

Iran’s judiciary said last week that a court had upheld the death sentence for the three.

It said evidence had been found on the phones of the three – Amirhossein Moradi, 26, a mobile phone retailer, Said Tamjidi, a 28-year-old student, and Mohammad Rajabi, also 26 – setting alight banks, buses and public buildings in November.

“We are very hopeful that the verdicts will be overturned … considering that one of the judges at the supreme court had opposed the verdicts before,” the four lawyers representing the accused said in a statement published by state news agency IRNA.

Numerous calls had spread online since the verdict was announced using the hashtag #DontExecute for a halt to executions in the country.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said at the time the verdict could still change over “extraordinary proceedings”, pointing to a legal clause that could trigger a retrial if deemed necessary by the chief justice.     

The demonstrations erupted on November 15 after authorities more than doubled fuel prices overnight, exacerbating economic hardship in the sanctions-hit country.  

They rocked a handful of cities before spreading to at least 100 urban centres across the Islamic republic.

Petrol pumps were torched, police stations attacked and shops looted before security forces stepped in amid a near-total internet blackout.

A senior Iranian legislator said in June that 230 people were killed and thousands injured during the protests.

Authorities had for months refused to provide casualty figures, rejecting tolls given by foreign media and human rights groups as “lies”.

London-based rights group Amnesty International has put the number of deaths at 304, and a group of independent UN rights experts said in December that 400 people, including at least 12 children, could have been killed, based on unconfirmed reports.

The United States has claimed more than 1,000 were killed in the violence.

Source: AFP