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France 'Deeply Shocked' By Execution Verdicts For Iran Protesters

From right to left: Amirhossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi and Saeed Tamjidi who have been sentenced to death in connection with acts of arson that took place during protests in November 2019.
Paris, July 17, 2020 (AFP) -

France on Friday said it was "deeply shocked" by Iranian death sentences handed to three men who took part in 2019 protests, adding to a growing outcry over the verdicts.

Iran said this week that the supreme court had upheld death sentences against the three young men, who were accused of setting alight banks, buses and public buildings in the November protests.

The demonstrations erupted on November 15 after authorities more than doubled fuel prices overnight, exacerbating economic hardships in the sanctions-hit country.

"France is deeply shocked by this sentence," the French foreign ministry said in a statement.

"France reaffirms its attachment to freedom of expression and the freedom of peaceful demonstration, as well as its steadfast opposition to the death penalty, in all places and in all circumstances," it added.

A group of UN rights experts had called Thursday on Iran to overturn the death sentences imposed on Amir Hossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi, and Mohammad Rajabi, and said allegations of torture had to be investigated.

U.S. President Donald Trump also weighed into the controversy, saying that executing "these three people sends a terrible signal to the world and should not be done!"

It is however not clear when the executions could be scheduled.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili has said the final verdict could still change, and a legal clause could trigger a retrial if deemed necessary by the chief justice.

Iranian authorities had responded to the protests with a deadly crackdown for which rights activists complain no-one has been held accountable.

Amnesty International issued a report in May detailing 304 verified protester deaths but it and other rights groups fear the actual toll was even higher.