Iran sentences rapper Toomaj Salehi to death for backing protests

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An Iranian court has sentenced to death a popular rapper jailed for more than a year and a half for supporting nationwide protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death, local media reported Wednesday.

“Branch 1 of Isfahan Revolutionary Court... sentenced Toomaj Salehi to death on the charge of corruption on Earth,” the singer’s lawyer Amir Raisian said, quoted by the reformist Shargh newspaper.

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Salehi, 33, was arrested in October 2022 after publicly backing the wave of demonstrations which erupted a month earlier, triggered by the death in custody of 22-year-old Amini, an Iranian Kurd who had been detained over an alleged breach of the Islamic Republic’s strict dress rules for women.

The court “in an unprecedented move, emphasized its independence and did not implement the Supreme Court’s ruling,” the lawyer said, adding that “we will certainly appeal against the sentence.”

“The Supreme Court, as an appellate authority, had reviewed the case and issued a ruling to the lower court to remove the flaws in the sentence,” he added.

“The fact is that the verdict of the court has clear legal conflicts,” the lawyer was quoted as saying.

“The contradiction with the ruling of the Supreme Court is considered the most important and at the same time the strangest part of this ruling.”

The Revolutionary Court had accused Salehi of “assistance in sedition, assembly and collusion, propaganda against the system and calling for riots,” he said.

Months of unrest following Amini’s death on September 16, 2022 saw hundreds of people killed including dozens of security personnel, and thousands more arrested.

Iranian officials labelled the protests “riots” and accused Tehran’s foreign foes of fomenting the unrest.

Nine men have been executed in protest-related cases involving killing and other violence against security forces.

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