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Iranian Lawyer Slams Death Sentence For Dissident Rapper


Iranian lawyer Ali Mojtahedzadeh has criticized the recent death sentence for Toomaj Salehi, a dissident rapper.

Mojtahedzadeh’s editorial in Etemad newspaper challenges the legal foundations of Salehi’s case, noting that previous charges of “corruption on earth” were dismissed.

Despite the Supreme Court’s recommendations to consider amnesty and adjust the initial sentence, the Revolutionary Court proceeded to reinstate the penalty without substantive legal justification.

“People are asking how a verdict can be issued that the majority of the country’s lawyers and legal experts assess as contrary to the country’s legal and judicial practices,” he added.

The lawyer lamented the judiciary’s missed opportunity to enhance its credibility and foster public trust amid ongoing unrest against the government. He argued that verdicts should be “rational and convincing,” adhering to legal principles and logical reasoning to gain public support.

Toomaj Salehi, aged 33, became a prominent voice during the 2022 Woman, Life, Freedom protests. His arrest and subsequent trials have drawn attention to Iran’s treatment of artists and activists who oppose the regime. Initially sentenced to death, his penalty was reduced to six years and three months in prison in July 2023, only to be abruptly reinstated under new charges.

Reports from human rights organizations also highlight the severe consequences of the protests ignited by Mahsa Amini’s death in custody in 2022. The reports indicate that over 500 people, including minors, were killed, thousands sustained injuries, and around 22,000 people were detained.

The ruling for Salehi has spurred protest rallies by the Iranian diaspora in major cities worldwide. Rallies are being held in several European, US, and Canadian cities to urge their governments to halt the execution..

Multiple international organizations, including the United Nations Truth Commission, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Islamic Republic, among others, have also condemned the verdict and called for the immediate and unconditional release of the imprisoned artist.

In Tehran and other cities, Salehi’s influence continues to resonate. Videos and images circulating online show posters and murals bearing his image, and there are reports of nightly chants and graffiti supporting the artist, signaling a growing movement against the regime’s oppression.

Salehi’s defense team, led by Amir Raesian, has announced plans to appeal the ruling within the 20-day window allowed by Iranian law, setting the stage for a critical legal battle that will be closely watched both domestically and internationally.