A second wrestler is set to be executed by Iran only months after they hanged another champion competitor, Navid Afkari, despite international pleas.
Mehdi Ali Hosseini, 29, from Andimeshk, Khuzestan, was arrested in 2015 and charged with murder following a group brawl.
The wrestler’s execution is imminent because the victim’s family refused to pardon the athlete for the alleged murder, according to Deutsche Welle.
Fellow wrestler and Iranian gold medallist at the London 2012 Olympics Hamid Sourian has called for the execution to be stopped.
Sourian said: ‘I hope that the honourable family of Gheibi will forgive this young man by doing this good deed.’
Cameron Khansarinia, policy director for the National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI), a nonpartisan organization of Iranian-Americans, told the Jerusalem Post that while most athletes fear sporting events being cancelled because of the pandemic, athletes in Iran fear ‘being murdered by the Islamic Republic.
‘After murdering champion wrestler Navid Afkari, the criminal regime occupying Iran intends to put fellow wrestler Mehdi Ali Hosseini to death.’
Khansarinia said the International Olympic Committee has yet to take any serious action and called for the regime to be banned from Olympic and international sporting events.
Mariam Memarsadeghi, an Iranian-American expert on human rights in the Islamic Republic told the Jerusalem Post that Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei is ‘testing the will of the Free World.’
Speaking about Mehdi Ali Hosseini, fellow wrestler and coach Habibollah Akhlaghi said that when he first started wrestling, Mehdi Ali Hosseini had been wrestling with his younger brother.
He also said that Hosseini had become the champion of Iran’s prison wrestling competitions during his time in prison.
In September, last year, fellow wrestler Navid Afkari, 27, was executed by Iran in the southern city of Shiraz.
Iran claimed Afkari was guilty of the murder of Hossein Torkman, a water department worker who was stabbed to death during protests in the country in August 2018.
Tehran broadcast an 11-minute confession by Afkari last week, but through his own social media channels, the wrestler had continued to protest his innocence.
Campaigners argued he was being framed for the murder by the regime, who were eager to silence one of their critics.
According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Navid and his brother Vahid Afkari were severely tortured to give confessions.
The execution even drew the attention of US President Trump who tweeted, urging Iran not to carry out the sentence.
Rob Koehler, director-general of Global Athlete, said both the International Olympic Committe and United World Wrestling failed to intervene to save Navid’s life and argues that they must now act to protect Hosseini.