JEDDAH: Iran’s regime on Tuesday sentenced five people to death for allegedly killing a member of a paramilitary force affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard. Eleven others received prison sentences.
The 13 men and three minors had been charged with killing Ruhollah Ajamian, a member of the Basij, a paramilitary volunteer branch of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard.
The five sentenced to death Monday were charged by Iran’s Revolutionary Court, along with eight others. Three boys were charged by Iran’s Criminal Court. Judiciary spokesman Masoud Setayeshi provided no evidence to support any of the accusations in an official report.
Officials did not disclose the identities of the 16. They said their sentences can be appealed, the longest being 25 years.
The alleged killing took place In Karaj, near Tehran, on Nov. 12 when a group of men chased and attacked Ajamian with knives and stones, the regime claims.
The sentencing comes amid months of anti-government demonstrations that have been violently suppressed by Iran’s security forces. The protests, now entering their third month, were sparked by the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Tuesday arrested 12 people accused of being linked to overseas agents and planning “subversive action,” the elite force said.
Tehran has accused Western intelligence services of fomenting the protests and seeking to instigate a civil war in Iran.
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Meanwhile, a group of 1,200 university students in Iran have been struck by a food poisoning outbreak on the eve of nationwide anti-regime demonstrations set to be held throughout the country, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The students at Kharazmi and Arak universities, as well as four other institutions, threw their provided food onto surrounding streets in protest, with the country’s national student union accusing authorities of deliberately poisoning people.
In a statement, the union said: “Our past experiences of similar incidents at the Isfahan University negates the authorities’ reason for this mass food poisoning.”
Officials have blamed the outbreak on waterborne bacteria.
However, clinics in several affected universities have also closed or run out of supplies to treat dehydration and other associated symptoms of food poisoning, in a sign that the outbreak may have been a deliberate strategy to thwart the national protest movement.
It came as a three-day nationwide strike was due to begin on Wednesday, intensifying public pressure against the regime.