Iranian metal band Confess have been sentenced to 14 1/2 years in prison and 74 lashes by the Revolutionary Tribunal of Tehran for the crime of playing metal, which is forbidden in Iran.
In 2015, band members Nikan “Siyanor” Khosravi and Arash “Chemical” Ilkhani were arrested by the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution on multiple charges including blasphemy for expressing anti-religious and anti-regime sentiments in their music. While Khosravi and Ilkhani fled Iran and were granted asylum in Norway, they were recently sentenced by prosecutors in Tehran.
Khosravi was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison along with 74 lashes, while Ilkhani was initially sentenced to six years before it was reduced to two years. A legal document from the General Judiciary of the Province of Tehran obtained by Loudwire outlines the sentencing on July 3. According to the document, six months of Khosravi’s imprisonment and the 74 lashes were ordered “for allegedly disturbing public opinion through the production of music containing anti-regime lyrics and insulting content and for participating in interviews with the opposition media. The accusation of attempting to leave the country has also been confirmed by the court.”
The full list of charges also includes “insulting the sanctity of Islam” and “insulting the Supreme Leader and the president.”
A request for comment was not immediately returned by the band or the Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Khosravi told Loudwire they escaped execution through a loophole in Iran’s practice of Sharia Law. “If you insult the Prophet you will get executed, because he’s dead and he can’t defend himself. But if you blaspheme God and question his existence, he can forgive you. That was why we didn’t get executed,” Khosravi said.
Prosecutors also filed additional charges for the band for leaving the country. Metal Injection reported that the duo made bail of $30,000 each and was released from Evin Prison in Tehran in 2017 to await sentencing. The band then fled to Turkey and filed for an appeal against the charges.
Now residing in Norway, Confess were granted asylum and are able to continue making music. The band just released a new single, “Evin”, named after the Iranian prison where they were held. The track will be included on their new album, Revenge at All Costs, most of which was written in 2016 and 2017 while the band awaited their first trial in Tehran, Iran, and focuses on their time in prison.