Iran executes opposition activists


Iran executed two people today who were sentenced to death in trials that followed the disputed presidential election last year which caused bloody opposition protests, Iranian media said.

It was the first report of executions of detainees put in the dock in connection with the vote unrest and may further increase tension in the Islamic Republic ahead of possible new anti-government demonstrations next month.

Internet messages have circulated about new opposition rallies on February 11th, when Iran marks the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution. Iran's hardline authorities have made clear they will not tolerate what they call "riots".

The two who were hanged were among a group of 11 people sentenced to death on charges including waging war against God, trying to overthrow the Islamic establishment and being members of armed groups, the ISNA news agency said.

Other Iranian media also carried reports on the executions.

"Two of the rioters and anti-revolutionary elements were hanged on Thursday," state television said.

The lawyer of one of those executed said 19-year-old Arash Rahmanipour was detained before the June poll. She described the charges as "political" and the verdict as "illegal and unjust".

"An execution with this speed and rush has only one explanation ... the government is trying to prevent the expansion of the current (opposition) movement through the spread of fear and intimidation," lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh said.

"He was never granted the right to defend himself freely and I could not defend him (adequately)," she said.

Tehran chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said the two were members of a pro-monarchy and anti-revolutionary group who had planned to plant bombs and assassinate officials.

"The were arrested by the intelligence forces. They were tried in a court in the presence of their lawyers ... and confessed to the charges against them," he told state television, without specifying when they were detained.