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Iran prosecutors to seek death penalty for 5 detained protesters

[JURIST] The Iranian judiciary said Thursday that five people arrested during in last month's violent riots [JURIST report] will be tried [ILNA report] for Moharebe, or warring against God, which is punishable by execution. The names of the accused have not been released. The protests, which were the largest since those that followed the June presidential election [JURIST news archive], interrupted the Shia Muslim celebration of Ashura, which marks the seventh century death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein. The protests resulted in at least four deaths, numerous injuries, and more than 300 arrests. Among those reported dead is the 35-year-old nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi [JURIST news archive]. Earlier this week, Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar warned [JURIST report] opposition activists that they could execution if they continue anti-government protests, and there is speculation that the severe charges are an attempt to quash ongoing unrest [NYT report].

The Iranian government has faced significant international scrutiny for its handling of the post-election protests and treatment of thousands arrested as a result. Last month, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] labeled [JURIST report] human rights violations committed by the Iranian government following the election among the worst of the past 20 years. In September, human rights groups called for [JURIST report] the UN General Assembly [official website] to appoint a special envoy to investigate allegations of rights violations. Alleged human rights abuses of detainees include sexual assault, beatings, and forced confessions [JURIST reports].

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