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Iran issues first known death sentence linked to recent protests

A demonstration of solidarity with Iranian protesters at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany.

Christoph Soeder | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

As Iran enters its eighth week of public unrest following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, the country’s Revolutionary Court issued its first known death sentence on Sunday over participation in the anti-regime protests.

According to the judiciary’s website Mizan Online, the unidentified accused set a government building on fire, and was sentenced on the charge of “disturbing public order and comfort, community and colluding to commit a crime against national security.”

Jail terms ranging from five to 10 years have been handed down to five other individuals, the ruling stated, on charges of national security and public order violations.

The rulings are subject to appeal, and further details of the case will not be published until the final verdict.

At least 326 people have been killed in one of the largest sustained challenges to Iran’s regime since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, according to Norway-based nongovernmental organization Iran Human Rights.

Iranian demonstrators take to the streets of the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amini on Sept. 21, days after she died in police custody.

Afp | Getty Images

The use of capital punishment is a new instrument in the government’s toolbox to squash antigovernment demonstrations.

An estimated 14,000 people have been arrested and detained since the protests started almost two months ago, according to the United Nations. About 1,000 people in Tehran were charged for their alleged involvement in the unrest.

Prior to Sunday, people involved in the protests were charged with crimes carrying the death penalty, namely “waging war against God,” and “corruption on earth.”

“We urge Iranian authorities to stop using the death penalty as a tool to squash protests,” the U.N. said in a statement, reiterating the organization’s call to release protesters.

Ramin Forouzandeh, an Iranian PhD candidate based in Toronto, told CNBC that while he believes lawmakers have the “‘desire’ to hang every protester,” they fear that doing so will ignite more serious waves of protests.

“I think they are testing their limits. I can say with confidence that if the protests calm down, they will start hanging the prisoners and double down on repression.”

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