Senior MEPs have launched an urgent appeal to halt the execution by the Iranian authorities of an innocent member of a persecuted religious minority.

Led by British MEP Anthea Mcintyre, the politicians are calling on Iran to stop the execution of Yavar Mohammed Salas and order a retrial after he was sentenced to death by the Iranian Supreme Court last week.

She is gathering signatures from MEPs of all nationalities and across the political spectrum for a letter insisting Iran's leadership must stop the hanging and conduct a fair trial.

Supporters say Mr Salas, a Gonabi Dervish, was wrongly convicted of the murder of three police officers when the case against him remained incomplete and unsubstantiated. Eyewitness and photographic evidence establishing his innocence was ignored by the court, while an alleged confession was extracted under duress.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said: "It appears Mr Salas was denied proper legal representation and that his trial violated the Iranian constitution and penal code.

"We say there must be no execution and this man must be allowed his right to a fair trial. We also condemn the suppression of religious and ethnic minorities, and the persecution of Gonabadi Dervishes in Iran, and call for the immediate release of detainees who have been imprisoned because of their beliefs."