DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s Revolutionary Court has sentenced an anti-government protester to death, and handed down jail terms to five others, state media said Sunday, amid persistent unrest in the country.
The ruling likely marks the first death sentence in the trials of those arrested for participating in protests that have swept Iran over the past weeks demanding an end to clerical rule.
Mizan, a news website linked to Iran’s judiciary, said the death sentence followed on charges of the protester setting fire to a government building. The five prison terms ranged from five to 10 years and alleged national security and public order violations.
Mizan said separate branches of the Revolutionary Court issued the verdicts but did not share further details of the protesters on trial, who can appeal the decisions.
The court was established following the 1979 Islamic Revolutions and is known for meting out harsh punishments to those who oppose Iran’s clerical rulers.
Iran has already issued indictments for hundreds of detained protesters saying it will hold public trials for them.
Anti-government demonstrations have entered their eighth week and were sparked by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was detained after allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women.
Judicial authorities have announced charges against hundreds of people in other Iranian provinces. Some have been accused of “corruption on earth” and “war against God,” offenses that carry the death penalty.
Security forces, including paramilitary volunteers with the Revolutionary Guard, have violently cracked down on the demonstrations, killing over 300 people, including dozens of children, according to the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights. Iranian authorities say more than 40 security forces were also killed in the nationwide unrest.
Although the protests first focused on ending Iran’s mandatory headscarf, or hijab, they have since transformed into one of the greatest challenges to the ruling clerics since the chaotic years following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.