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Iran hangs two accused of conspiring against state

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran executed two men Thursday who were accused of involvement in an armed antigovernment group, as the public prosecutor announced that new death sentences have been issued against opposition activists involved in protests over June's disputed presidential election.

The announcements marked an escalation by the courts enforcing the clerical leadership's heavy, monthslong crackdown aimed at crushing the opposition challenge. The prosecutor also said a new group of protesters and others would soon be brought to trial.

The two men had been arrested before the election and did not appear to be connected to the postelection protests.

But they were part of the same mass trial as opposition leaders and activists arrested amid the crackdown. State media depicted the two as part of the protest movement, a sign of how the government used the unrest to pursue other enemies.

The media's depiction of the executions may aim to intimidate the opposition ahead of new demonstrations in February.

In a further move likely aimed at cowing protesters, Tehran's prosecutor announced that five people have been sentenced to death for involvement in the most recent major demonstration, on Dec. 27. That day saw the worst violence of the crackdown, with at least eight people killed in clashes between police and hundreds arrested.

The new verdicts raise to nine the number of people sentenced to death for involvement in protests, said the prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi.

The two men executed, Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour, were convicted by a Revolutionary Court of belonging to "counterrevolutionary and monarchist groups," plotting to overthrow "the Islamic establishment" and planning assassinations and bombings, Dowlatabadi said.

Iran hangs two accused of conspiring against state 01/28/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 28, 2010 10:57pm]
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