TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Chief Justice of Tehran Province Gholam Hossein Esmaili called on the country’s judges dealing with the cases of those arrested during recent protests to issue harsh sentences for ringleaders of the riots.

Speaking to Press Shia Agency, Esmaili said during recent protests in the country, some individuals have been arrested by the Law Enforcement Force as they were making acts of vandalism.

Some “targeted arrests” have also been made by other security forces, having enough documentation to support the charges against them, he added.

He further advised the judges dealing with the cases of the riots’ ringleaders to issue harsh sentences for them and those whose role in destroying public properties is clear. 

Riots broke out is some Iranian cities over the past few days amid peaceful rallies in protest at price hikes and economic woes.

Security forces have arrested a number of leading rioters and mercenaries affiliated with foreign intelligence services, a chief judiciary official in Tehran said.

There are various conflicting reports about the number of casualties and the extent of the damage in the riots. According to some unverified reports, at least 21 people, including a number of the security forces, have been killed.

According to Article 27 of the Iranian Constitution, “public gatherings and marches are allowed so long as the participants do not carry arms and are not in violation of the fundamental principles of Islam.”

Some Western and Arab media outlets tried to portray the protests as a political uprising against the Establishment.

Iranian officials maintain that people have the right to stage protests to express their opinions, as long as rallies comply with the legal conditions.