Iran: Man Accused of Killing anti-riot forces could be imminently executed
Speaking with the state-run Fars news agency Hossein Rahimi, the capital’s police chief, announced that the driver of a bus who allegedly ran over and killed three members of anti-riot units will be executed within a few weeks.
“With the coordination that has taken place with the judiciary, the bus driver that drove over the policemen will be punished by execution before the end of the persian year (March 20, 2018),” Hossein Rahimi said.
The bus driver has been identified as Mohammad Salas, a member of Gonabadi Dervish community. On February 21, a man claiming to be Salas appeared on a video in a hospital room apologizing to the families of the victims for driving the bus that killed the five men.
The veracity of the video, which was posted on Twitter by the Fars News Agency, affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was not verified by human rights organizations.
“I don’t know what I was thinking at that moment. I had no intention to kill anyone. I got angry and pressed the gas,” said the man in the video. “It was out of my control… It just happened. I give my condolences. What can I do?”
It is said that Salas had been arrested a few hours before the bus ran over the anti-riot forces, rising more suspicions. Eyewitnesses say say he was severely beaten while arrested.
During a previous press conference, Rahimi said the police contemplated using military-grade weapons against the protesters.
“Our tactful and moderate response should not be interpreted as appeasement,” he said on February 22. “We could have destroyed the agitators’ house with a rocket-propelled grenade but we acted tactfully and from a position of strength.”
While visiting injured security forces at a hospital in the capital on March 2, Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi threatened to “deal seriously” with “the perpetrators of recent disturbances.”
He made no mention of a possible death sentence against the bus driver but said the drivers of two passenger cars who had also allegedly run over security forces on February 19 had been arrested and “confessed.”
A gathering on February 19, 2018, by Dervish Gonabadi protesters turned violent after police intervention. The Dervishes were protesting the detention of Nematollahi Riahi and the lack of accountability by agents about where he was detained and charges made against him. Nematollahi Riahi had gone to the Namju Police Station to follow up the condition of other detained Dervishes but was arrested by police. The State Security Force attacked the protesters, firing bird shots and tear gas and using batons. At least three Dervish Gonabadi protesters were killed and more than 600 were arrested.
A Dervish Gonabadi community member, Mohammad Raji, who was recently arrested, in Tehran’s 7th Golestan St., was tortured to death during interrogation.
Many protesters were severely injured by anti-riot units using pellet guns. Reports indicate many injured protesters have been arrested in hospitals by intelligence agents.