TEHRAN: Iran’s Supreme Court has accepted the death sentence appeal of rapper Saman Seydi Yasin even as it confirmed a death sentence against another protester, the country’s judiciary said on Saturday.

Yasin, a Kurd who raps about inequality, oppression and unemployment, had been accused of attempting to kill security forces, setting a rubbish bin on fire and shooting three times into the air — charges which he denied.

Yasin’s mother last week pleaded in a video for help to save her son. “Where in the world have you seen a loved one’s life is taken for a trash bin?” she said in the video posted on social media.

The court had initially said it had accepted the appeals of Yasin and another protester but in a subsequent statement, the judiciary’s Mizan news agency said only that of Yasin had been accepted.

“The public relations of the Supreme Court of Iran has corrected its news: ‘The appeal of Mohammad Qabadloo has not been accepted [...] Saman Seydi’s appeal has been accepted by the Supreme Court,” the agency said.

Explaining the decision in its original statement, it cited flaws in investigating the case and said it had been referred back to the court for re-examination. Qabadloo had been charged with killing a police agent and injuring five others during the protests.

Unrest erupted across Iran in mid-September after the death-in-custody of Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police enforcing the Islamic Republic’s mandatory dress code laws.

Saturday’s announcement follows the Supreme Court’s suspension of protester Mahan Sadrat’s death sentence 10 days ago. He had been charged with various alleged offences such as stabbing a security officer and setting fire to a motorcycle.

Iran hanged two protesters earlier this month: Mohsen Shekari, 23 — who was accused of blocking a main road in September and wounding a member of the paramilitary Basij force with a knife — and Majid Reza Rahnavard, 23, who was accused of stabbing to death two Basij members and publicly hanged from a construction crane.

Amnesty International has said Iranian authorities are seeking the death penalty for at least 26 people in what it called “sham trials designed to intimidate those participating in the popular uprising that has rocked Iran”.

It said all of those facing death sentences have been denied the right to adequate defence and access to lawyers of their choosing. Rights groups say defendants have instead to rely on state-appointed attorneys who do little to defend them.

Rights group HRANA said that as of Friday, 506 protesters had been killed, including 69 minors. It said 66 members of the security forces had also been killed. As many as 18,516 protesters are believed to have been arrested, it said.

Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2022

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