Iran sentences man to death over deadly Shia shrine attack

An Iranian court sentenced a man to death over an April shrine attack in the Shia holy city of Mashhad that killed two clerics, the judiciary said on Tuesday.

The April 5 attack on the Imam Reza shrine, where pilgrims had gathered to worship during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, killed two clerics and injured a third.

Local media at the time identified the assailant as Abdolatif Moradi, a 21-year-old Sunni extremist and ethnic Uzbek who had entered Iran illegally via the Pakistani border a year earlier.

“The person who stabbed two clerics in the Imam Reza shrine at Mashhad was sentenced to death,” judiciary spokesman Massoud Setayeshi told a news conference in the capital Tehran.

The defense has appealed the verdict at the Supreme Court, which will review the case, the spokesman added.

One of the clerics, Mohammad Aslani, died immediately while the death of the second, Sadegh Darai, was announced two days later.

The attack came days after two Sunni clerics were shot dead outside a seminary in the northern town of Gonbad-e Kavus.

The three suspects, also Sunnis, were arrested in late April, but were said to have “no connection with terrorist groups,” state media reported at the time.

Sunnis make up between five and 10 percent of Shia-majority Iran’s population of 83 million people.

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