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Iran Executes Sunni Prisoner After 14 Years on Death Row

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After 14 years in jail, Sunni prisoner Khosrow Besharat was executed for trumped up charges of killing an imam amid Iran’s continued execution spree.

Besharat was one of seven people charged with “moharebeh” (waging war against God) and other offenses, of which six have already been executed.

Arrested in December 2009 alongside Anwar Khezri, Qasem AbastehAyoub Karimi, Farhad Salimi, Davoud Abdollahi, and Kamran Sheikheh, the group faced allegations of “moharebeh,” “corruption on earth,” “supporting Salafi groups,” and the murder of Abdolrahim Tina, an imam in Mahabad killed in 2008.

Initially sentenced to death in 2017, Besharat’s verdict was overturned by the Supreme Court, which sent the case back to the Revolutionary Court in Tehran for re-evaluation. Nevertheless, in June 2018, amid Iran’s secretive legal system, they were once again sentenced to death, a decision confirmed by the Supreme Court in February 2020.

The execution of Besharat at Ghezelhesar prison in Karaj on Wednesday follows closely behind that of Anwar Khezri, killed on May 1 after approximately 15 years in the same prison. The death sentences of Abasteh, Karimi, Salimi, and Abdollahi were also executed between November 2023 and January 2024.

Throughout their incarceration, Besharat and the other defendants had repeatedly professed their innocence in published letters, asserting that the charges against them were unfounded.

Besharat’s execution occurred on a day when, according to the US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), four other prisoners were executed in Ghezelhesar prison for charges related to drug crimes and murder.

Amnesty International released a report on April 4 titled “Don’t Let Them Kill Us,” highlighting that 853 were executed in Iran in 2023, an unprecedented figure in the last eight years. Among those are huge numbers of minorities such as Kurds.