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Iranian Revolutionary Court Sentences Monarchist to Death


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Iran's Revolutionary Court has sentenced an opposition activist to death, in the first such verdict since trials of opposition supporters began in August. Monarchist Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani is to be hanged for participating in unrest, last June, according to opposition websites.

Several top Iranian opposition websites are reporting that Iran's Revolutionary Court has handed down a death sentence to an opposition activist for the first time since August, when it began trying those involved in post-election unrest.

Iran's Committee on Human Rights Reporters says that monarchist Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani was "sentenced to death by hanging" for participating in demonstrations in the wake of June's disputed presidential election.

Zamani, who belongs to the Association of Monarchists, was not allowed access to a defense attorney, according to the report. The opposition Green Wave website notes that Zamani "made a series of confessions" during his August trial.

Iran's Mehr news agency reported, during the trial, that Zamani was an active member of a "terrorist" monarchist group, and had fought against the country's Islamic regime.

The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard organization, Mohammad Ali Jaafari, also repeated a government complaint Thursday that the Iranian opposition was "trying to overthrow the Islamic Republic and replace it with a bogus regime."

Iranian monarchists have long attracted the ire of the government, which has accused them of responsibility for a number of bloody mosque bombings in recent years.

Iran analyst Dr. Mehrdad Khonsari of the London-based Center for Arab and Iranian Studies says that the stiff nature of the sentence handed down by the Revolutionary Court comes as a surprise, given its recent pattern of behavior:

"This particular case is really an odd-one out, in the sense that this is not the trait that the regime has indicated," said Khonsari. "I think a deal has been struck, or was struck that most of the people who have been detained would be tried and then released. The common trait in the Islamic government is to sentence people hand out a fairly sturdy sentence, but release, while at the same time warning them if they were to misbehave, they would have to return to prison to serve the rest of their sentence."

Dr. Khonsari adds that it is not surprising, however, that the Iranian regime would deal sternly with a monarchist, since "[they] are people who are outside the ruling constituency, and are faced with a different set of [rules] if they run afoul of the regime."

A number of prominent Iranian clerics have ruled that the Revolutionary Court's trials of opposition activists "have no legal value," since "involuntary confessions made by defendents are void according to Shi'ite jurisprudence."

Iranian law states that convicts may appeal their sentences which have to be upheld by both the appeals court and the supreme court before they are carried out.

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