Iran: Three Sentenced To Death Over Economic Crimes

Special courts set up to combat financial crimes in the Islamic Republic of Iran have sentenced three individuals to death, Reuters news agency reports.

The announcement was made by Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei on Iran's state television.

The three were sentenced to death after being convicted of "spreading corruption on earth," which is a capital offense under Iran's strict Islamic laws.

The Middle Eastern country is currently facing intense sanctions from the United States, and the government is cracking down on corruption and profiteering.

In an effort to confront the economic war waged by foreign governments, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei set up special Islamic revolutionary courts, calling for "swift and just" legal action.

Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei did not name the three Iranians sentenced to death, but he did threaten truck drivers holding a nationwide strike over pay and high prices. "Harsh penalties" await them if they continue to protest.

"Harsh penalties await those who... block lorry traffic on roads," he warned.

The protests have not died down, despite several rounds of arrest.

Iran's General prosecutor Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, however, vowed that protesting truck drivers will face death sentences as well.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, death sentences and government crackdowns on citizens' economic freedoms are nothing new, although they have intensified with the expansion of sanctions, and after Donald Trump's pulling out of the so called Iran deal.

According to the Heritage Foundation - a public policy think tank based in Washington, D.C. - "U.S. decertification of the nuclear deal in October 2017 and widening economic sanctions will hamper much-needed investment flows into the country."

In the region, Iran is ranked 13th among 14 countries when it comes to economic freedom. Powerful interest groups linked to the government and Iran's Islamic religious establishment are opposed to economic liberalization, and the government plays the dominant role in the economy.

In Iran, according to the Heritage Foundation, the judicial system is used to silence dissidents and the government confiscates private property catering to the needs of its tax-exempt foundations. Iran's government owns hundreds of enterprises, indirectly controls many "private" companies, and maintains price control.

Executions, crackdowns on freedom of expression, and gross mistreatment of prisoners, women, minorities, political dissidents are commonplace in Iran, according to Human Rights Watch.

According to The Jerusalem Post, the next round of American sanctions - set to begin on November 4 - will deliver a major blow to Iran's struggling economy, hitting the country's oil industry the hardest, and will likely tip the economy back into recession.