Iran executes 2022 protester for murder

Human rights advocates criticise Mohammad Ghobadlou’s conviction, saying he did not get a fair trial.

Newspapers showing Mahsa Amini
A newspaper with a cover picture of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by Iranian morality police [File: Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters]

Iran has executed a man who ran over and killed a policeman, and injured five other people, during nationwide protests in 2022.

Mohammad Ghobadlou was executed on Tuesday, according to the judiciary’s Mizan news agency. However, human rights advocates criticised his conviction, saying he did not get a fair trial.

“After being upheld by the Supreme Court, the death penalty against defendant Mohammad Ghobadlou has been implemented early this morning,” Mizan reported.

The policeman was killed amid the huge protests that followed the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman who was arrested for violating Iran’s strict dress code for women.

Ghobadlou was initially sentenced to death in November 2022 after being convicted of “corruption on earth” for attacking police in Tehran with a car.

The Supreme Court granted him a stay of execution in February 2023, and later ordered consideration of his mental health, according to Mehr news agency.

Mizan reported on Tuesday that the Supreme Court had upheld the death sentence, which was carried out under Iran’s Islamic law of retribution.

Hundreds died during the 2022 protests, including dozens of security personnel, and thousands were arrested over what officials labelled as foreign-instigated “riots”.

Ghobadlou is the eighth person executed after being convicted of murder or other violence against security forces during the demonstrations.

‘Unfair sham trials’

However, human rights group Amnesty International said the 22-year-old’s right to a fair trial was violated, and his bipolar condition was not taken into consideration by the judicial system.

“Ghobadlou received two death sentences after grossly unfair sham trials marred by torture-tainted ‘confessions’ and failure to order rigorous mental health assessments despite his mental disability,” Amnesty said.

However, Mizan said claims of mental disability were wrong. Ghobadlou, it noted, had allegedly rejected the suggestion during his trial.

Earlier this month, dozens of people, including Ghobadlou’s family, demonstrated in front of a prison in the Iranian city of Karaj against his sentencing as well as that of another young man.

“My child is sick, he has a medical file, but they don’t want to accept,” Ghobadlou’s mother shouted in one video of the event at that time, which was verified by Al Jazeera.

Iran executes more people per year than any other country except China, according to Amnesty, and usually does so by hanging.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies