Iran Supreme Court annuls death penalty for spiritual leader
TEHRAN - Iran's Supreme Court annulled Monday the death penalty for spiritual leader Mohammad Ali Taheri and referred his case back to the court that handed down the sentence, his lawyer said.
"I went to court today and was told that the verdict has been cancelled," Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabayi said, quoted by Fars news agency.
The Revolutionary Court "has to examine the case again and issue a new verdict."
Taheri, who has no religious training, founded a spiritual movement and practised alternative medicine, following what he presented as spiritual messages.
After a brief arrest in 2010, he was rearrested in May 2011 and held in solitary confinement. He was sentenced to death in June for "insulting Islamic sanctities" and "corruption on earth".
In August, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, called for the immediate release of Taheri.
In a message posted on Facebook in the same month, Alizadeh said his client "does not deny any of the principles of Shia Islam and firmly believes in them and observes them."
Taheri apologised to the Revolutionary Court and said he was prepared to recant his beliefs if the authorities believed his thoughts deviated from Islam's teaching, according to the lawyer.