AP: Three U.N. human rights investigators on Wednesday said Iran was planning the imminent execution of seven Arabs sentenced to death after a secret trial.
By BRADLEY S. KLAPPER
Associated Press Writer
GENEVA (AP) – Three U.N. human rights investigators on Wednesday said Iran was planning the imminent execution of seven Arabs sentenced to death after a secret trial.
The investigators said in a joint statement that relatives of seven Arabs from Ahvaz, Iran, the capital of oil-rich Khuzestan province, were told earlier this week that the executions would occur “in the next few days.”
The seven were part of a larger group of Arabs arrested in June 2006 in Khuzestan on charges including intent to destabilize Iran and overthrow its government, the investigators said.
The suspects were accused of having been trained in Iraq by U.S., British and Israeli officials, said Philip Alston, the U.N. Human Rights Council’s expert on summary executions, and fellow investigators Leandro Despouy and Manfred Nowak.
Iran executed three from the larger group of Arabs last month, they said.
An official at Iran’s mission to the U.N. in Geneva said he could not immediately comment.
It was unclear whether the condemned Arabs were arrested in connection with two bombings that killed at least nine people in Ahvaz last year. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed “the occupiers of Iraq” – inferring the U.S. and Britain – for supporting the bombers.
The investigators conceded that those awaiting execution were accused of serious crimes, but said such suspicions “cannot justify their conviction and execution after trials that made a mockery of due process requirements.”
According to the human rights experts, lawyers were not allowed to see the defendants before the trail and faced charges of “threatening national security” when attempting to defend their clients.
They said the convictions were reportedly based on confessions extorted under torture.
Arabs make up less than 3 percent of Iran’s population, and most live in Khuzestan.
Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.