Iran sentences soccer player Azadani to 26 years in prison and has already accumulated 16 death sentences for the protests | International

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The Iranian regime has sentenced soccer player Amir Nasr Azadani to 26 years in prison on Monday for the alleged murder of three members of the security forces, collusion to commit crimes and being a member of illegal groups. Azadani's arrest went viral and sparked criticism around the world when footballers' associations and international media announced in December, at the height of the World Cup, that the athlete had been sentenced to death. "They kill on the street with weapons and in prison with the law," lawyer Saeid Dehghan said on Twitter about the situation in the country.

The strong police repression has caused nearly 500 deaths, among civilians and members of the regime's security forces, and almost 20,000 detainees since the death on September 16 of Mahsa Amini in police custody after being arrested by the morality police. for not wearing the Islamic headscarf correctly. Parallel to the police repression, the courts speed up sentences in trials described as "farces" and "unfair" by the NGO Amnesty International (AI). The regime already has 16 death sentences and four public executions—the last two, this same weekend—in an attempt to stop the protests that have shaken the country since last September.

The death of Amini, 22, after being detained by the morality police for not wearing the Islamic headscarf sparked protests in which the population, both inside and outside Iran, called for the end of the ayatollahs' regime and of the Islamic Republic. Young people are the protagonists of these protests shouting “woman, life, freedom”.

The last three death sentences were announced on Monday. Saleh Mirhashemi, Majid Kazemi Sheikh Shabani and Saeed Yaqoubi have been sentenced to death for moharebe ―enmity against God― for the alleged murder of three basijis (paramilitary security forces), on November 16 in the city of Isfahan, according to the Mizan news agency.

The three convicted join at least 13 others sentenced to death by hanging in recent months for the alleged murder of members of the security forces, but also for injuring police officers or blocking streets, according to the Iranian authorities. Among those convicted are 18-year-olds, such as Arshia Takdastan, sentenced last week to hang on charges of being the leader of the crowd in the main square of the city of Noushar and committing major criminal actions in the riots.

Iranian authorities have so far executed four accused of taking part in the protests: The first, on December 8, when 23-year-old Mohsen Shekari was hanged for allegedly wounding a Basiji with a knife, blocking a street and creating terror in Tehran. Just four days later, a second protester, Majid Reza Rahnavard, accused of murdering two security officers, was publicly executed. And this Saturday, Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Mohammad Hosseini were executed for the alleged murder of a Basiji.

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The hangings have provoked strong international criticism. The European Union has expressed shock and has repeatedly called on Tehran to quash the death sentences against the protesters without delay. The judicial processes of the demonstrators have been questioned by human rights organizations such as AI or the UN, which have denounced the trials as "farces", "unfair" and "revenge".

A woman protests outside the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Mexico City, while holding pictures of soccer player Amir Nasr-Azadani, on December 19.NurPhoto (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

In addition, Iranian activists have denounced that the trials are being held behind closed doors, in record time, with confessions obtained under torture and in many cases without the presence of lawyers.

Rahnavard, publicly executed, was convicted in a one-day trial. And the family of Karami, who was hanged on Saturday, denounced that they had not been allowed to choose a lawyer and that the lawyer selected for them did not respond to his calls.

In addition to the hanging sentences, there is an indeterminate number of prison sentences, of which several hundred are known. In mid-December, Iranian media reported that at least 400 protesters had been sentenced to prison terms in Tehran alone, with terms ranging from two to 10 years in prison.

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