Iranian Footballer Receives 26-Year Sentence for Participating in Protests

On Monday (01.09.2023), the Iranian Judiciary’s Mizan press agency reported the sentencing of four people in connection with the murder of three Basijis – Islamic militants – in Isfahan in mid-November. Amir Nasr Azadani, a prominent Iranian soccer player, has been sentenced to 26 years in prison for his collusion in the murder, five years for the charge of assembly and collusion to commit crimes, and two years for being a member of illegal groups that allegedly had the intent to disturb the public security.

The three other individuals involved in the murder have been sentenced to death. Saleh Mirhashemi, Majid Kazemi Sheikh Shabani and Saeed Yaqoubi have been sentenced to death for “moharebe” or “enmity against God.” Meanwhile, Soheil Jahangiri has been sentenced to two years in prison while Jaber Mirhashemi has been acquitted.

The sentencing comes after a report by human rights organization, Iran Human Rights, estimating that the recent protests in Iran, which began with the death of Mahsa Amin due to her detention by morality police, have resulted in the detention of at least 20,000 and the killing of nearly 500 people.

The European Union (EU) expressed shock at the executions and called on Tehran to “rescind without delay” the death sentences already handed down in the context of the demonstrations. Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have similarly denounced the trials as “shams” and “unfair” and “retaliation.”

This latest sentencing of Azadani and his three counterparts comes amidst the ongoing crisis in Iran, as protestors have been fighting to seek reform from the Islamic Republic founded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979. In the wake of this and other similar rulings, international media and football lobbyists continue to draw attention to the alleged unfair trial of Azadani in addition to the repressive tactics utilized by the Iranian government.

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