Iran top court accepts rapper Yasin's appeal against death sentence
Iran's Supreme Court has accepted an appeal by rapper Saman Seydi Yasin against his death sentence even as it confirmed the same sentence against another protester, the judiciary said on Saturday.
Yasin, a Kurd who raps about inequality, oppression and unemployment, had been accused of attempting to kill security forces, setting a rubbish bin on fire and shooting three times into the air during anti-government protests, charges which he denied, according to Reuters.
Yasin's mother last week pleaded in a video for help to save her son. "Where in the world have you seen a loved one's life is taken for a trash bin?" she said in the video posted on social media.
The court had initially said it had accepted the appeals of Yasin and another protester, but in a subsequent statement the judiciary's Mizan news agency said only Yasin's appeal had been accepted.
"The public relations of the Supreme Court of Iran has corrected its news: 'The appeal of Mohammad Qobadloo has not been accepted… Saman Seydi's appeal has been accepted by the Supreme Court," the agency said.
Explaining the decision in its original statement, it cited flaws in investigating the case and said it had been referred back to the court for re-examination.
Qobadloo had been charged with killing a police agent and injuring five others with his car during the protests.
Unrest erupted across Iran in mid-September after the death in custody of Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police enforcing the Islamic Republic's strict dress code for women.
Late on Saturday, the 100th day of the protests, videos posted on social media showed night demonstrations said to be in areas including the capital Tehran, the northeastern city of Mashhad, Karaj west of Tehran, and Sanandaj, the centre of Kurdistan province in the northwest.
Dozens of protesters were seen braving rain and snow to chant slogans including "Death to the dictator" and "Death to (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei!". Reuters could not immediately verify the videos.
Saturday's announcement follows the Supreme Court's suspension of protester Mahan Sadrat's death sentence 10 days ago. He had been charged with various alleged offences such as stabbing a security officer and setting fire to a motorcycle.
Iran hanged two protesters earlier this month: Mohsen Shekari, 23, who was accused of blocking a main road in September and wounding a member of the paramilitary Basij force with a knife; and Majid Reza Rahnavard, 23, who was accused of stabbing to death two Basij members, and publicly hanged from a construction crane.
Amnesty International called on the international community to pressure Iran to halt Qobadloo's execution and "not allow Iran’s machinery of death to claim another victim while (the) world’s attention is on celebrating the festive season".
Amnesty has said Iranian authorities are seeking the death penalty for at least 26 people in what it called "sham trials designed to intimidate those participating in the popular uprising that has rocked Iran".
It said all of those facing death sentences had been denied the right to adequate defence and access to lawyers of their choosing. Rights groups say defendants have instead to rely on state-appointed attorneys who do little to defend them.
Rights group HRANA said that, as of Friday, 506 protesters had been killed, including 69 minors. It said 66 members of the security forces had also been killed. As many as 18,516 protesters are believed to have been arrested, it said.
Officials have said that up to 300 people, including members of the security forces, had lost their lives in the unrest.