Iran jails Mahsa Amini uncle for over five years: rights groups

Safa Aeli could be summoned at any time to serve his sentence (Dimitar DILKOFF)
Safa Aeli could be summoned at any time to serve his sentence (Dimitar DILKOFF)

Iranian authorities have handed down a jail sentence of over five years to the uncle of Mahsa Amini, the young Iranian-Kurdish woman whose custody death sparked months of protests, over his anti-government views expressed during the 2022 demonstrations, rights groups said on Tuesday.

Safa Aeli, 30, was sentenced to five years and four months in prison by the Revolutionary Court in the family's hometown of Saqez in northwestern Iran, the Norway-based Hengaw group and US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) said.

In addition, he was punished with sanctions including a highly unusual demand to produce a written document outlining the biography of a member of the security forces killed in the protests and then submit his "own personal interpretation" of the finished document to the judicial authorities, Hengaw said.

He was then ordered to post a voice message about the work on his social media accounts and otherwise banned from expressing any views about the protests.

Quoting family lawyer Saleh Nikbakht, HRANA said that part of the sentence was suspended and Aeli would have to serve three years and six months in prison.

The charges against him include taking part in protests that violated internal security, dissemination of anti-government propaganda, and insulting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Aeli is currently released on bail after his arrest in September 2023 shortly before the one-year anniversary of the death of his niece.

Mahsa Amini, 22, died in hospital on September 16, 2022 after being arrested for allegedly flouting the strict dress rules for women in the Islamic republic.

Her family and activists say she was killed by a blow to the head while in custody but this is denied by Iranian officials.

Aeli was released on bail in October 2023, according to HRANA. In Iran, it is common for convicts to be suddenly summoned to serve long sentences with only a few days notice.

The protests after Amini's death shook Iran's Islamic authorities but have now subsided in the face of a crackdown in which rights groups said hundreds were killed and the UN tallied thousands arrested.

Nine men have been executed in cases related to the protests, according to rights groups.

Iranian authorities say dozens of security personnel were also killed in what they describe as "riots" incited by foreign governments and hostile media.

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