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Iran opposition

Iran executes second wrestler months after executing champion wrestler Navid Afkari

Published: Updated:

Iran executed a second wrestler on Monday on a murder charge, a local media outlet reported, months after the execution of champion wrestler Navid Afkari sparked an international outcry.

Mehdi Ali Hosseini, 30, was executed in a prison in the city of Dezful in the southwestern Khuzestan province, Asre Jonoob, which covers news in the oil-rich province, first reported.

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Hosseini was arrested in 2015 and charged with murder. “He killed a 22-year-old during an armed robbery,” the semi-official Fars news agency reported later on Monday, citing local judiciary officials.

“Contrary to the false claims of the dissident media,” Hosseini was not a wrestler, Fars claimed, citing a local wrestling official.

Earlier this month, Hosseini’s execution was postponed thanks to a campaign to save his life which several Iranian professional wrestlers, including six-time World Champion Hamid Sourian, took part in.

Iran executed 27-year-old champion wrestler Navid Afkari in September, drawing widespread condemnation, including from the United States and the European Union.

Iran accused Afkari of killing a security guard during anti-government protests in 2018 – a charge the executed wrestler and his family rejected. They maintained he was tortured into making false confessions.

As with Afkari’s execution, Hosseini’s execution has sparked an outcry from Iranians on social media, with some regime critics calling on the International Olympic Committee to ban Iran.

In 2020, Iran executed at least 236 citizens, and another 95 were sentenced to death, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), a news site run by a collective of Iranian human rights advocates.

Read more:

Iran’s history of executing athletes

Iran ‘tortured’ prisoners before executions

Iran executes two ethnic Baluchis on unclear charges: Rights group

Iran executes dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam: Iranian media