Iran charges 11 over killing of Basij paramilitary member

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Top Sunni cleric slams regime brutality against protests

Iran has indicted eleven people over the murder of a Basij paramilitary force member during a ceremony last week in honour of a slain protester, a judiciary official said Saturday.

The incident happened on November 3 in Karaj, capital of Alborz province, when mourners were paying tribute to Hadis Najafi at the cemetery to mark 40 days after she was killed in the city.

Her death on September 21 came five days into nationwide protests that erupted after the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, following her arrest for an alleged breach of Iran’s hijab dress rules for women.

Eleven people, including a woman, had been summoned and charged over the killing of Basij member Ruhollah Ajamian, said Alborz province’s judiciary chief Hossein Fazeli Harikandi.

The indictments followed an investigation launched after images posted on social media networks showed “a group of rioters assaulting and killing” Ajamian, the judiciary’s Mizan Online website quoted him as saying.

“Rioters attacked this security officer, who was unarmed, stripped him naked, stabbed him with knives, beat him with brass knuckles, stones, and kicks, and then dragged his naked and half-dead body on the asphalt street and between cars in a horrific manner,” Harikandi added.

Some face charges of “corruption on earth”, one of the most serious offenses under Iranian law which is punishable by death.

They are also accused of serious disturbance of public order leading to murder, gathering with the intention to commit crimes against the country’s security, and propaganda against the state.

Meanwhile, Abdolhamid Ismail-Zai, 75, Iran’s top Sunni cleric condemned the regime in his Friday sermon, saying authorities are trying to pay to silence the families of people killed in protests that have rocked the country in recent weeks.

Abdolhamid Ismail-Zai, was speaking out following disproportionate violence meted out against members of the Baluchi ethnic minority, a largely Sunni group in Shiite-majority Iran for whom he is a spiritual and political figurehead.

“We do not want money,” he said in his sermon at Makki mosque in the provincial capital Zahedan. “Who were the people who made this happen, and for what reason? The people who were responsible for this must be brought to justice. This was the demand of the martyrs’ families.”

Ismail-Zai hai has become increasingly vocal in his criticism of the regime throughout the protests. “We do not have freedom in the Islamic Republic,” Ismail-Zai said. “Where is the freedom? Where is the freedom of press? Where is the freedom of expression? Everything is censored. Everything is restricted.

“A large part of the Iranian people is protesting. A majority of the people of Iran have objections, are unsatisfied. I urge regime leaders to listen to them.”—Agencies

 

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