Five people were sentenced to death for allegedly killing a member of a militia affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard, according to state media. According to the report from IRNA, Iran's state news agency, 13 men and three minors were charged with killing Ruhollah Ajamian, a member of the Basij's elite Revolutionary Guard.
The report said that the killing took place in Karaj, near Tehran, on November 12 when a group of men chased and attacked Ajamian with knives and stones. The IRNA report refers to rioters, a term used by the government to refer to protesters. Anti-government demonstrations were taking place in the area at the time.
The sentencings come amid months of anti-government demonstrations that have been violently suppressed by Iran's security forces. The protests, now entering their third month, were caused by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic's strict dress code. Demonstrations have escalated to call for the demise of Iran's clerical rulers, posing one of the most serious challenges to Iran's theocracy since the 1979 revolution.
The five sentenced to death on Monday were charged by Iran's revolutionary court. Three boys were charged by Iran's criminal court, according to the report. Judiciary spokesperson Masoud Setayeshi, who is cited in the report, provided no evidence to support any of the accusations.
The longest sentences, 25 years, can be appealed, according to the IRNA.
Iran's revolutionary court gives out death sentences. The court was established after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. In 2021, Iran executed more than 314 people, more than half of the total state executions in the Middle East, according to Amnesty International.
Last week, Iranian authorities executed four people accused of working for Israel's Mossad intelligence agency. It provided no evidence to the public about any of the four men's alleged crimes.
The country's semi-official state news agency, Tasnim, said on Tuesday that 12 people had been arrested for being linked to anti-revolutionary foreign agents in Germany and the Netherlands.
According to an Islamic Revolutionary Guard statement cited by Tasnim, the group was planning to procure weapons and act against the country's security. There were no more details.
Iran often arrests and sentences people on charges related to espionage and has accused western countries of driving the protests. At least 473 people have been killed and 18,200 others have been arrested in the demonstrations and security forces crackdown that followed, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group monitoring the demonstrations.
Tuesday was the second day of a three-day nationwide strike called for by the protesters. In posts circulating on social media, demonstrators asked businesses to close and called for people to stop using banks. The level of participation was not clear, but in the neighbourhoods of northern Tehran most shops were closed on Tuesday afternoon and there was a heavy security presence.
On Monday, Iran s judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi ordered the arrest of anyone encouraging the strike or trying to intimidate shops into shutting down. Tasnim said authorities in the southern city of Shiraz shut down a pharmacy after it refused to sell items to patients on Monday.