Thursday 18 February 2016

Iran: Mohammad Ali Taheri resumes hunger strike

Amnesty - Iran's Supreme Court quashed Mohammad Ali Taheri's death sentence in December andreturned his case to the Revolutionary Court to order further investigation. He is now in his fifth year of solitary confinement, and has begun a new hunger strike in protest.

Mohammad Ali Taheri started a hunger strike on 30 January after the authorities in Section 2A of Teheran's Evin Prison, which is run by the Revolutionary Guards, told him that "he must get the thought of being released out of his mind". After seven days on hunger strike, he lost consciousness and was transferred to a hospital: he was returned to prison on 10 February. He has continued his hunger strike despite his fragile health.

Mohammad Ali Taheri has been in pre-trial solitary confinement since May 2011. He has been charged withseveral offences, including "spreading corruption on earth" and also "insulting Islamic sanctities", for which aRevolutionary Court sentenced him in October 2011 to five years in prison, but said further investigations werenecessary before it could rule on the first charge. The Revolutionary Guards subsequently resumed theirinvestigations, pending which the pre-trial detention in solitary confinement was repeatedly extended. MohammadAli Taheri was ultimately sentenced to death in July 2015 for "spreading corruption on earth" through establishing aspiritual group called Erfan-e Halgheh and promoting beliefs and practices which the authorities said were"perverse" and advanced a "soft overthrow" of the government by weakening people's religious convictions.

The Supreme Court quashed the death sentence in December 2015, holding that the definition of "spreading corruptionon earth" was not met under the criminal laws in force at the time of his activities. The case has now been returnedto the prosecutorial authorities to conduct further investigations that could potentially support the charge. On 7February 2016, the five-year prison sentence was considered complete taking into account the pre-trial detention,which continues to date.

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