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Source: BBC

Apr 24, 2024

Iranian rapper sentenced to death, says lawyer

By Andre Rhoden-Paul, Jiyar Gol

An Iranian rapper jailed for supporting anti-government protests has been sentenced to death, his lawyer has said.

Toomaj Salehi in his songs supported protests in 2022 that erupted over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died in police custody after allegedly wearing an "improper" hijab.

One of Mr Salehi's lawyers, Amir Raesian, said the rapper would appeal against the issuing of a death sentence.

Iranian authorities have not commented.

Mr Salehi was first arrested in October 2022 after making public statements in support of protests and he was charged with numerous offences.

He was sentenced in July 2023 to six years and three months prison after avoiding a death sentence due to a Supreme Court ruling.

But in January, Isfahan's Revolutionary Court accused Mr Salehi of new charges in addition to those he had been acquitted of earlier, his lawyer said.

Speaking to newspaper Sharq on Wednesday, Mr Raesian said the revolutionary court ignored Supreme Court's ruling for clemency and instead issued new charges before handing down "the harshest punishment".

The charges he was found guilty of included corruption on earth on several charges, "Baghi" [armed rebellion], assembly and collusion, propaganda against the ruling establishment and inciting riot.

Mr Salehi has 20 days to appeal against the ruling.

Before the 2022 protests, established artist Mr Salehi was already an outspoken and figure and was banned from performing in concerts, instead posting his songs on social media.

Through his songs and lyrics he boldly criticized the leadership of Iran for their corruption and crackdowns on dissent.

Following his 2023 sentencing to six years in prison, he was released on bail in November of the same year but rearrested a few days later on charges of sharing "false claims without evidence", an apparent reference to a video message he posted claiming to have been "tortured" and pressured by intelligence ministry agents.

Recently Iranian police have intensified their presence on the streets to enforce Islamist dress codes for women.

The verdict by an Islamic revolutionary court appears to be a calculated message signalling the regime's strength and determination to suppress any form of dissent.

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