Sunni cleric Mohammad Khezrnejad

Death Sentence of Sunni Iranian Cleric Commuted to Life Imprisonment

Tuesday, 06/11/2024

After interventions from Sunni clerics, the death sentence for Mohammad Khezrnejad, a dissident Sunni Kurdish cleric has been commuted to life imprisonment. 

Khezrnejad, a vocal critic of governmental policies, was initially detained on November 19, 2022, following his speech at a memorial for Asad Rahimi, a victim of the protests in Bukan, where he openly criticized the government's suppression of protests following the death in morality police custody of Mahsa Amini. The death of the Kurdish-Iranian was the trigger for the biggest anti-government uprising since the founding of the Islamic Republic.

The Urmia Revolutionary Court, after holding Khezrnejad in temporary custody for over a year, convicted him on December 20, 2023, for "corruption on earth," sentencing him to death. Additional charges included 15 years for "damaging the integrity or independence of the country," and one year for "propaganda against the system." The sentences were later affirmed by Branch 41 of the Supreme Court, presided over by Judge Ali Razini.

Mizan, Iran's judicial news agency, claims a displayed remorse and pledge for better conduct from Khezrnejad, alongside pleas from prominent Sunni scholars, led to the reduction of his sentence to life imprisonment. 

During his detention, reports from the Hengaw Human Rights Organization highlighted that Khezrnejad endured severe torture, resulting in coerced confessions. 

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