Iran sentences Sufi man to death for killing police

Mohammad Reza Salas, who was born in 1967, was tried for "culpable homicide" after driving a bus into a group of police officers, killing three.

Published: 20th March 2018 12:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2018 12:42 AM   |  A+A-


TEHRAN: Iran's judiciary has sentenced a man to death for killing three policemen in February during clashes in Tehran between security forces and members of a Sufi order, state media said Monday.

Mohammad Reza Salas, who was born in 1967, was tried for "culpable homicide" after driving a bus into a group of police officers, killing three.

The incident happened during violent clashes in the capital on February 19 between police and members of the Sufi Gonabadi order. 

Two members of the Basij, an Islamic militia tasked with a number of policing duties, were also killed in the clashes. 

The violence erupted during a demonstration by members of Iran's Gonabadi Sufi order, known as dervishes, who were protesting the arrest of members of the sect, as well as rumours that their leader would soon be arrested. 

During the hearings, Salas made contradictory statements about the circumstances of his actions, but said repeatedly that he never intended to kill, according to Iranian media. 

On the first day of the trial, he claimed that he had run into the group of riot police in a fit of "rage" after being severely beaten in the head by several of the officers. 

On Sunday, he said he had asked the police "several times" during his interrogation when he would be hanged. 

"I'm tired of this life," he said, addressing the judge. 

A mystic branch of Islam, Sufism is tolerated in Iran but perceived as a "deviation" by many conservative members of the Shiite clergy.

Emerging in the nineteenth century, the Gonabadi order is one of the most important Sufi branches in Iran. 

Its followers regularly complain of being harassed by authorities and discriminated against by the Islamic Republic. 


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