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Iran policeman gets 3 years over death of blogger

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News,World,Iran,Middle East

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A policeman convicted over the death of a detained blogger in 2012 has been sentenced to three years in jail and another two in internal exile, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported Thursday.

Blogger Sattar Beheshti, a little-known activist, was detained Oct. 30, 2012 for alleged cybercrimes and taken to the Evin prison in Tehran the next day, where he was handed over to cyber police for interrogation. He died Nov. 3 and had "signs of wounds" on his body, according to an official report released by Iran's judiciary in 2012.

ISNA said the policeman was sentenced to three years in jail, 74 lashes and two years of internal exile in the remote southern town of Borazjan. The prison time was for assaulting Beheshti and the lashes were for insulting and cursing the blogger.

ISNA quoted Giti Pourfazel, a lawyer hired by Beheshti's mother, as saying the sentence was too light considering the nature of the crime.

"While journalists are sentenced to six years in this country, it's surprising that a murderer is sentenced to three years in jail," the lawyer was quoted by ISNA as saying.

The policeman stood trial on charges of "semi-premeditated murder" and assault. Beheshti's mother believed he should have been charged with premeditated murder, which would have carried the death penalty. She said she would not pursue the case because she thought the process was unfair, and refused to accept blood money, which was offered as part of the conviction on the lesser charge, her lawyer said, according to ISNA.

The 35-year-old Beheshti was not a well-known activist, but his death in police custody attracted global attention.

The Iranian parliament probed the murder and Iran's judiciary chief, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, ordered a full inquiry. The coroner's office provided a detailed report later saying that "signs of wounds" were found in five places on Beheshti's body, including his foot, hand, back and one of his thighs. It added that there were no broken bones.

Dozens of bloggers and journalists have been arrested in Iran in recent years, particularly during and after mass protests held over a disputed election in 2009. President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate elected last year, has vowed to expand media and Internet freedoms but has faced resistance from hardliners.

In 2010 a parliamentary investigation of the deaths in detention of three people during the unrest that followed the 2009 elections led to the dismissal of several judicial and police officials.

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