Iran executes two men convicted over 2016 police killings

TEHRAN (AFP): Iran has executed two men convicted of killing four police officers in 2016 in a region hit by a wave of violence in September, the judiciary said Wednesday.

“Two members of the Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) terrorist group, Rashid Baluch and Eshaq Askani, were executed yesterday in Zahedan prison,” the judiciary’s Mizan Online website reported.

Jaish al-Adl was formed in 2012 by former members of an extremist Sunni Muslim organisation that led a bloody rebellion in Sistan-Baluchistan, on Iran’s border with Pakistan.

The two men were found guilty of killing four police border guards and wounding several officers in 2016 in the impoverished southeastern province, Mizan Online said.

Dozens of people, including six members of the security forces, were killed in clashes that broke out in Zahedan after Friday prayers on September 30, the authorities said.

Iranian media outlets reported at the time that Jaish al-Adl claimed responsibility for an attack on a police station during the violence.

But an influential leader of Sistan-Baluchistan’s Sunni minority, cleric Molavi Abdol Hamid, rejected the involvement of Jaish al-Adl or any other group in the violence.

After an investigation at the request of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, authorities dismissed two senior security officials in the region, including Zahedan’s police chief.

The bloodshed in Zahedan came two weeks after nationwide unrest erupted over the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, following her arrest by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code for women.

According to London-based rights group Amnesty International, Iran is second only to China in its use of the death penalty, with at least 314 people executed in 2021.