Scores of executions feared in Iran as 23-year-old hanged in public killing

Fears are growing that Iran is preparing to execute scores more protesters after authorities hanged a 23-year-old man from a crane, in a public killing carried out less than a month after he was arrested and following a secretive trial. Majidreza Rahnavard was sentenced to death by a court in the city of Mashhad, a centre of the protests, for allegedly killing two members of the paramilitary Basij force and wounding four others. The Basij, affiliated with the country’s feared Revolutionary Guards, has been at the forefront of the state crackdown.

The pro-government Mizan news agency published a collage of images of Rahnavard hanging from a metal crane, his hands and feet bound, a black bag over his head. Masked security force members stood guard in front of concrete and metal barriers that held back a crowd early on Monday morning.

Rahnavard was not allowed to choose his own lawyer, challenge the evidence against him or ask for the trial to be held in public.

Iranian activist network 1500tasvir said Rahnavard’s mother was allowed to visit him the night before he was hanged. Neither was aware of his imminent execution, according to the group, which posted a photo on Twitter of the two hugging and smiling…

The director of the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, warned that the public execution of a young man so soon after his arrest indicated “a significant escalation of the level of violence against protesters”.

“Rahnavard was sentenced to death based on coerced confessions, after a grossly unfair process and a show trial,” said Amiry-Moghaddam, a leading activist in exile. “This crime must be met with serious consequences for the Islamic republic.” He said there was “a serious risk of mass execution of protesters” as thousands were in custody.

UN human rights experts estimated that more than 14,000 people have been arrested since rallies first erupted in mid-September over the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman arrested by the morality police for allegedly wearing her headscarf the wrong way. She left police custody in a coma and died in hospital from severe head wounds.

Iran is already the world’s most prolific user of the death penalty after China, Amnesty International says. The rights group warned this weekend that the lives of two more young men sentenced to death – Mahan Sadrat and Sahand Nourmohammadzadeh – were both at imminent risk….