Three women held in custody for "disrespecting compulsory hijab," or the so-called Islamic dress code, have been sentenced to a total of 55 years and six months.
A Revolutionary Court in the capital city of Tehran delivered the verdict to Monireh Arabshahi, Yasamin Ariany and Mojgan Keshavarz, who are behind bars in the notorious Qarchak prison.
Arabshahi and Ariany's legal counsel, Amir Raeesian, said that if the verdict is upheld, his clients would each be sentenced to 10 years.
In Iran, if a prison term is unusually long, a shorter sentence is set to be served. Usually, the shorter sentence to be served is a little more than half of the original long prison term.
In an interview, Mojgan Keshavarz's attorney, Mohammad Moqimi, also verified the news but said that his client would appeal.
The verdict was delivered to the prisoners in the absence of their lawyers.
The three had been charged with "assembly and collusion to act against national security", "propaganda against the regime" and "encouraging and preparing the grounds for corruption and prostitution."
However, Moqimi said that his client, Keshavarz, had merely protested compulsory hijab and had nothing to do with other charges claimed by the prosecutor.
Ironically, none of the attorneys were allowed to represent their clients during different stages of issuing the indictment, interrogation and trial.
Amnesty International had earlier also protested depriving the accused of the right of having access to legal counsels.
According to Amnesty, "In April 2019, Yasaman Aryani, her mother, Monireh Arabshahi, and Mojgan Keshavarz were all arrested after posting a video that went viral on International Women's Day." In it, they are seen walking without headscarves through a Tehran metro train, handing flowers to female passengers. "The day will come when women are not forced to struggle," Monireh Arabshahi is heard saying while Yasaman Aryani hands a flower to a woman wearing a hijab, saying she hopes to walk side by side in the street one day, "me without the hijab and you with the hijab."
Sources said that because of this video, Yasaman Aryani and Monireh Arabshahi are facing charges that include "spreading propaganda against the system" and "inciting corruption and prostitution."
Furthermore, Amnesty reported that the detained women were under heavy pressure to make self-incriminating testimony in front of TV cameras.
Branch 28 of Tehran's Revolutionary Court that condemned the three is presided by a notorious judge, Mohammad Moqisseh, who is well known for issuing harsh verdicts totally based on the reports compiled by intelligence agents.
Reportedly, while delivering the verdict, Moqisseh told the three, "I will make you suffer!"
Moqisseh is the same judge who on March 11 sentenced prominent Iranian lawyer and defender of women's rights Nasrin Sotoudeh to nearly 40 years.
A day later, Sotoudeh's husband, Reza Khandan, announced that only the longest sentence of the verdicts would be served, which is ten years imprisonment (for "encouraging corruption and debauchery and providing the means").