The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran) reported that Just four months after the execution of Iranian wrestling champion, Navid Afkari, another prominent Iranian wrestler, Mehdi Ali Hosseini, is set to be executed by the regime. The Iranian judiciary is reportedly moving to executed the 29-year-old imminently, approximately five years after he was arrested and charged with murder during a group brawl.
“Mehdi Ali Hosseini, 29, is expected to be executed imminently as the victim’s family has refused to pardon him Navid…” https://t.co/je8rSMNt7V Navid Afkari was executed after Tehran claimed he had murdered a water department worker during nationwide protests in 2018 #MEK #Iran pic.twitter.com/YTmOSqapYw
— MEK Iran (Mujahedin-e Khalq) (@MEK_Iran) January 12, 2021
The prosecution has sought to obtain a capital sentencing, arguing that this was a premeditated killing, despite reports that the brawl was unplanned and the murder a case of manslaughter. This method of misrepresentation is unsurprising in the Iranian judicial system, given that Iran has the world’s highest rate of executions per capita.
In cases such as Hosseini’s, where there is an obvious individual victim, the family of the said victim can choose to lawfully forgive the accused for their crime. In this case, the perpetrator can then avoid the death sentence. This often happens in exchange for what is known as “blood money”.
Hosseini has been given an extra week in order to seek this pardon, known as “Oisas”, from the victim’s family. However, according to Arab News, the family has refused to pardon him and it is expected he will not be spared from his scheduled execution.
In 1968, #Iran's greatest wrestler Gholuamreza Takhti was murdered for criticizing the regime. In 2020, wrestler Navid Afkari was publicly hanged. Now, Iran is planning to execute champion wrestler Mehdi Ali Hosseini
The Wrestler’s Dissertation#wrestlinghttps://t.co/AXoyTfnwkg pic.twitter.com/rRXtXmqV1v
— Antonio Graceffo (@Brooklynmonk) January 17, 2021
Many activists from across the globe are calling for Hosseini’s execution to be stayed, including Iranian wrestler Hamid Sourian, who won gold medals for Iran in the Olympic Games.
An official from the foreign affairs committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Ali Safavi, told Arab News that the NCRI, “strongly condemns the ruling religious dictatorship for its intention to execute Hosseini.”
Safavi said “The NCRI is opposed to capital punishment as a matter of principle. As evident in the past four decades, the clerical regime uses executions — political and otherwise — as a means to instill an atmosphere of terror and intimidation in society, in a bid to thwart the eruption of uprisings by an increasingly enraged and discontented population, which seeks regime change,”
— Ali Safavi (@amsafavi) January 16, 2021
“These executions are carried out in blatant breach of internationally recognized standards, including due process.”
Capital punishment is used as a weapon of oppression by the Iranian regime, threatening the Iranian people to fall in line unless they also want to face execution. High-profile individuals are made an example of by the regime as a public display of power and control.
This is exemplified by the case of Navid Afkari, also a competitive wrestler, whose death sentence was met with international condemnation, from the International Olympic Committee to the US President Donald Trump. In 2019, Afkari had participated in nation-wide protests demanding regime change. He was arrested upon this basis, as were thousands of other protestors. However, when the authorities realized that hours before the murder of a security guard Afkari had been in the general vicinity of the crime, they decided to use this as an excuse to execute him.
Afkari, along with his brothers, were tortured into confession, as a report by Amnesty International has shown to be commonplace in Iran’s prisons. Despite it being later proved Afkari could not have committed this crime, the execution went ahead in September 2020.
Despite the international outcry, neither the European Union nor United Nations, who demonstrated public interest in the case, have taken action to sanction the regime for the unjust execution of Afkari. The regime remains free to commit capital punishment as a device of intimidation and suppression over the Iranian people.
#NavidAfkari said in one of his last messages that he is fighting against the most ruthless adversary in human history.And there is no doubt that it will be toppled as a result of the struggle &uprisings of the courageous youths and the great Army of Freedom #StopExecutionsinIran pic.twitter.com/ilmMuXxnue
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) September 19, 2020