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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Iran executes two over election unrest

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran executed two people on Thursday over widespread street unrest that erupted after the Islamic Republic's disputed presidential election in June, an Iranian news agency reported.


The two were among 11 people sentenced to death on charges including moharebeh (waging war against God), trying to overthrow the Islamic establishment and membership of armed groups, the ISNA students agency said.

The executions were the first carried out for election-related incidents and may further increase tension in Iran ahead of possible new anti-government protests next month.

The presidential election, which was followed by huge opposition rallies, plunged Iran into its deepest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution and exposed widening establishment divisions.

In the most serious violence since the aftermath of the election, eight people were killed in clashes between opposition supporters and security forces on Ashura, the holy Shi'ite day of ritual mourning, that fell on December 27.

"Following the riots and anti-revolutionary measures in recent months, particularly on the day of Ashura, a Tehran Islamic Revolutionary Court branch considered the cases of a number of accused and handed down the execution sentences against 11 of those," ISNA said.

"The sentences against two of these people ... were carried out today at dawn and the accused were hanged," ISNA said, adding the sentences had been confirmed by an appeal court.

It named the two as Mohammad Reza Alizamani and Arash Rahmanipour.

"The sentences for the other nine of the accused in recent months' riots are at the appeal stage ... upon confirmation, measures will be undertaken to implement the sentences," ISNA said.

ISNA said the charges included membership of two anti-revolutionary groups, including a pro-monarchy association.

The reformist opposition says the June election was rigged to secure hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election. The authorities deny this.

Officials have portrayed the protests as a foreign-backed bid to undermine Iran's Islamic system of government.

Internet messages have been circulating about new protests on February 11, when Iran marks the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed shah.

(Writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Tim Pearce)

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