Reuters: Ten suspects went on trial in Iran on Tuesday accused of belonging to a Sunni Muslim rebel group whose leader was executed two days ago for his involvement in attacks on the predominantly Shi’ite Islamic state.
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Ten suspects went on trial in Iran on Tuesday accused of belonging to a Sunni Muslim rebel group whose leader was executed two days ago for his involvement in attacks on the predominantly Shi’ite Islamic state.
Iran arrested leader Abdolmalek Rigi in February, four months after his Jundollah (God’s soldiers) group claimed a bombing which killed dozens of people, including senior officers of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.
Iran hanged him on Sunday. He was also charged with armed robbery, kidnapping, drug trafficking and the formation and leadship of Jundollah.
“The 10 associates of Rigi have been accused of moharebeh (waging war against God) by supporting and becoming members of the Jundollah group,” ISNA news agency quoted a judiciary official in the southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province where the trial was held.
Under Iran’s sharia law, if convicted, moharebeh is punishable by death.
Iranian officials say Jundollah has links to Sunni Islamist al Qaeda and support from Pakistan, Britain and the United States. The three countries deny backing it.
Many minority Sunnis live in Sistan-Baluchestan, an impoverished area near Pakistan and Afghanistan, where there has been an increase in recent years in bombings and clashes between security forces, ethnic Baluch Sunni insurgents and drug traffickers.
Iran hanged 13 Jundollah members in July last year and one in November in connection with various killings and attacks. A brother of Rigi was also executed in May for bombing operations, armed robbery and drug trafficking.
Iran, a major oil producer locked in dispute with the United States and its allies over its nuclear programme, rejects allegations by Western rights groups that it discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities.
(Editing by Alison Williams)