The vice president of the Iranian Wrestling Federation has pleaded for a stay of execution for Mehdi Ali Hosseini, who has been found guilty of a murder that reportedly took place more than five years ago during a mass brawl.
The athlete is set to become the second wrestler in recent years to be executed following his arrest in 2015 and charge over a premeditated murder that was said to have been committed during a group brawl.
With the victim’s family reportedly refusing to pardon Hosseini for the alleged crime, Hosseini’s punishment is set to take place imminently.
“I beg Dr. Gholami Gheibi, who is one of the prominent doctors in Dezful, as the father of the victim, to please God,” he reportedly said.
“I hope that the honorable family of Gheibi will forgive this young man by doing this good deed.”
Hosseini is the second high-profile Iranian athlete to be given the death penalty after another champion wrestler, Navid Afkari, was publicly hanged in September.
Afkari claimed he had been coerced into giving a false confession, and his death sparked widespread condemnation, with many international organizations calling on the International Olympic Committee to ban Iran from the Olympic movement in the wake of the scandal.
The United World Wrestling (UWW) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) both called for clemency but did not sanction Iran after the execution.
“While most athletes fear the further cancellation of sporting events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, athletes in Iran fear being murdered by the Islamic Republic,” said Cameron Khansarinia, the National Union for Democracy in Iran policy director.
“After murdering champion wrestler Navid Afkari, the criminal regime occupying Iran intends to put fellow wrestler Mehdi Ali Hosseini to death.
“The International Olympic Committee has as yet refused to take any serious actions against the regime in Tehran for its bloody assault against athletes, despite a co-ordinated campaign by Iranian athletic champions.
Inside the Games said it had contacted the IOC and UWW for comment.