ANI Photo | Iran sentences rapper Toumaj Salehi to death on speech-related charges

Iranian rapper Toumaj Salehi, known for his outspoken criticism of the government, has been sentenced to death by an Iranian court on speech-related charges, sparking outrage from human rights organisations, an international non-governmental organisation, Human Rights Watch said in a press statement.
The verdict was issued by Branch 1 of Isfahan’s Revolutionary Court, which found Salehi guilty of “corruption on earth,” a charge that can carry the death penalty. Salehi’s lawyer, Amir Raeesian, revealed the sentence to the media outlet Shargh on April 24, 2024. Raeesian denounced the ruling, highlighting significant legal errors and stating that they would appeal the verdict.
Human Rights Watch condemned the decision, with senior Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch, Tara Sepehri Far denouncing the Iranian judicial system’s assault on fundamental freedoms and the right to a fair trial. “Iran’s revolutionary court judges act like they are empowered to assault citizens’ basic rights and make a mockery of any existing legal safeguards. Toumaj Salehi’s outrageous verdict is just the latest manifestation of Iran’s brutal justice system. He should be released immediately,” she stated, calling for Salehi’s immediate release.
According to the Human Rights Watch statement released on Wednesday, Salehi’s legal ordeal began when he was violently arrested on October 30, 2022, amidst protests following the death of Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Jina Amini in morality police custody. He was held in solitary confinement and faced multiple charges, including “corruption on earth.”
Despite a previous six-year prison sentence being struck down by Iran’s Supreme Court in November 2023, Salehi was rearrested by security forces just 12 days later.
In a previous trial, Branch 1 of Isfahan’s Revolutionary Court had ruled that the threshold for the “corruption on earth” charge had not been met, instead sentencing Salehi to six years in prison under article 286 of the Islamic Penal Code. However, he was later released on bail after the sentence was overturned. Yet, upon his rearrest, new charges were brought against him, resulting in a one-year prison sentence and a two-year travel ban.
Despite these legal battles, Salehi faced a new trial on April 18, 2024, where additional charges were added, ultimately leading to the death sentence. Raeesian highlighted the legal inconsistencies in the ruling, including contradictions with the supreme court verdict.
The case of Toumaj Salehi is not an isolated incident. Human Rights Watch highlighted a pattern of Iranian authorities using vaguely defined national security charges against protesters, resulting in death sentences. The organisation revealed that as of April 2024, 25 death sentences had been issued in connection to protests, with eight executions carried out and 11 death penalty convictions overturned by the Supreme Court, the release said.
Another rapper, Saman Seyedi, also known as “Yasin,” was among those arrested during the protests. While initially sentenced to death on charges of “enmity against the state,” his sentence was struck down by the Supreme Court. However, he was later sentenced to five years in prison by Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court.
Sepehri Far condemned the Iranian government’s use of unfair courts to suppress dissent, describing it as a cornerstone of their repression tactics.
“The Iranian government has made unfair courts a cornerstone of its vicious repression of popular dissent,” Sepehri Far said.(ANI)

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