Javad Ruhi, an Iranian protester detained by state security forces last month, has been handed three death sentences by a court on charges his public defender says were laid without evidence.

According to the court’s indictment obtained by RFERL’s Radio Farda, Soleiman Vatandoust, the public defender of Javad Ruhi, told the court that a review of the video from the scene only proves Ruhi’s presence at the protests, but that “there is no evidence regarding the accusations, including corruption on Earth.”

Ruhi, 35, was arrested in the northern Iranian city of Nowshahr on December 11 for participating in ongoing nationwide protests sparked by the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, while in police custody in September.

Last week, the Mazandaran Province Judicial Department’s communications arm said Ruhi was accused of three crimes: apostasy and insulting the Koran, burning and destroying public property, and inciting citizens to create insecurity and collusion to commit a crime against the security of the country.

However, the public defender said Ruhi did not participate in the burning of public property, there is no evidence he incites citizens to create insecurity, and the charge of insulting the Koran is also not correct.

Still, the court handed Ruhi a death sentence for each of the charges.

“The client had fundamental and important objections to the preliminary investigations, which certainly in the coming days will be reflected in his appeal to the Supreme Court,” Majid Kaveh, Ruhi’s court-appointed lawyer, who was allowed to meet his client only after the death sentences were issued, said on Twitter.

Mehdi (Shayan) Mohammadifar, who was also accused in the case, was handed two death sentences for “corruption on Earth,” and “inciting citizens to create insecurity and collusion to commit a crime against the security of the country.”

Iranians have flooded streets across the country in protest since Amini’s death, with women and schoolgirls putting up unprecedented shows of defiance in what appears to be the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

A brutal government crackdown on public demonstrators and dissent has seen several thousand people arrested, including journalists, lawyers, activists, digital rights defenders, and others voicing opposition to the government.

Some lawmakers have demanded a harsh response to the unrest, saying heavy penalties, including death sentences, are warranted for protesters.

Four convicted protesters have already been executed, while two others, Mohammad Ghobadlou and Mohammad Broghani, had their sentences upheld by the country’s Supreme Court and remain in prison on death row.

The regime has blamed Western governments for the unrest.

Human rights groups say the crackdown has left nearly 500 people dead and hundreds more injured, in addition to the arrests.

Source » rferl