Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iran Sentences Sufi To Death Over Killing Of Three Police Officers

Iranian policemen carry a the coffin of colleague a colleague who was one of three officers killed last month when a bus rammed into them in February.

Iran has sentenced to death a supporter of a Sufi leader who rammed a bus into a group of police officers last month, killing three.

The incident in Tehran took place during last month's clashes between the Gonabadi Sufi leader Nourali Tabandeh's followers and security forces.

The March 19 report by the official IRNA news agency said the convicted man, Mohammad Reza Salas, can appeal his verdict within 20 days.

During hearings last week, Salas testified that he did not kill the police officers intentionally, but was trying to flee the clashes.

Supporters of Tabandeh, who is 90, held sit-ins near his home in Tehran, worried that he could be detained by police, despite assurances by the authorities that they had no such intention.

Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam, is not illegal in Iran but rights groups accuse the Iranian government of harassment and discrimination against their followers, including the Gonabadis, one of the largest Sufi sects.

Several Sufis have been arrested in recent months, according to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran.

In March 2017, the UN special rapporteur for Iran expressed concern over the state targeting of members of Sufi groups, saying they "continue to face arbitrary arrest, harassment, and detention and are often accused of national security crimes."

Based on reporting by AP and