Iran has executed four men it says were linked to an Israeli intelligence operation.
The death sentences were carried out on Monday after the Supreme Court rejected appeals, according to Iranian state media. The quartet was accused of planning a bomb attack ordered by Israel’s Mossad agency.
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“The death sentence of four members of a group affiliated with the Zionist spy organisation … was carried out this morning,” the Iranian judiciary’s website Mizan Online reported.
Hengaw, a Norway-based Kurdish rights group, accused Iranian authorities of an unfair trial.
“Throughout the trial, the prisoners were denied their basic rights to legal representation, visits and even communication with their
families,” Hengaw wrote in a statement cited by the dpa news agency.
The confessions of the men, who it identified as Kurds, were forced under torture, the group alleged.
Credible source close to the families of the four executed Kurdish political prisoners revealed to Hengaw that Pejman Fatehi, Mohsen Mazloum, Vafa Azarbar, and Mohammad Faramarzi, throughout their detention for over 18 months, were denied the opportunity to meet with anyone… pic.twitter.com/YQVt0oUFWg
— Hengaw Organization for Human Rights (@Hengaw_English) January 29, 2024
The men were convicted of illegally entering Iran from Iraq’s northern Kurdish region to attack a factory in the central city of Isfahan that produces equipment for the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics. The operation was planned for summer 2022 but was averted by Iranian intelligence.
Iran and Israel are longtime foes. They are currently locked in a row over Iran’s nuclear programme. Israel accuses Iran of backing armed groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, with which it is fighting. Iran says Israel has carried out a number of killings of Iranian officials and scientists, accusations that Tel Aviv neither confirms nor denies.
Wave of executions
Iran executes more people per year than any other country except China, according to Amnesty, and usually does so by hanging.
In late December, it put to death three men and one woman convicted for alleged links to Mossad.
Last week, Mohammed Ghobadlou, an Iranian man sentenced for his participation in antigovernment protests in late 2022 was executed. Critics said the defendant had suffered from mental health issues.
“We are alarmed by reports of unfair trial proceedings in the case of Mr Ghobadlou, as well as in other cases, which fell far short of due process and fair trial standards required by international human rights law by which Iran is bound,” experts from UN’s human rights agency after the sentence was carried out.
“We are dismayed by the unprecedented rise in executions in Iran and note that at least 834 people were executed in 2023, including 8 people associated with the nationwide protests,” the experts said. “We urge the Iranian government to stop this horrific wave of executions.”
United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk said last year that Iran had an “abominable” track record of executions, with an average of more than 10 people hanged each week.