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U.S., Rights Groups Blast Iranian Sufi’s ‘Rushed’ Execution


IRAN -- Iranian Gonabadi Dervish, Mohammad Reza Salas who have been accused of killing police officers by bus, in his hearing session in a court in Tehran on Sunday March 11, 2018.

By RFE/RL

The United States and human rights watchdogs have condemned Iran's execution of a Sufi man who was convicted of killing three police officers during clashes between police and a Sufi sect in February.

Mohammad Reza Salas’s “rushed execution is the latest example of the Iranian regime’s disregard for the human rights of its citizens," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement late on June 18.

"The application of the death penalty, without affording Mr. Salas the fair trial and appeal guarantees to which he was entitled, is a clear violation to Iran’s international human rights obligations," she also said.

Following Salas’s execution near Tehran at dawn on June 18, his remains were buried in Borujerd, hundreds of kilometers from the Iranian capital, under heavy security presence, according to human rights groups.

Supporters have said Salas he maintained his innocence but claimed he was tortured into a forced confession.

Amnesty International condemned “in the strongest terms” Salas’s execution, which it called “a travesty of justice that is abhorrent and unconscionable."

“The Iranian judiciary’s determination to execute Salas after rushing his trial and sentence despite serious allegations of torture betrays the legal system’s core function of upholding justice,” Human Rights Watch said.

The Salas case centered on the deaths of three officers who were run over by a bus during battles between security forces and followers of one of Iran’s largest Sufi orders in Tehran in February.

Salas's supporters have said he maintained his innocence but claimed he was tortured into a forced confession.

Followers of the Nemattolah Gonabadi order, known as dervishes, were protesting the arrest of members of the sect. Some 300 dervishes were reportedly arrested following the violence.

Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam, is not illegal in Iran but rights groups accuse the Iranian government of harassment and discrimination against its followers.

Nauert called on Iranian authorities to "release the hundreds of Sufis who remain imprisoned on account of their beliefs."

"The Iranian people deserve rule of law, transparent and accountable governance, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, not the callous impunity that continues to define the regime," she said.


With reporting by AP

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