A scientist who helped a Maltese consultant develop a model of the local acute healthcare system could be sentenced to death, and the international community is appealing for his release.

Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian academic specialising in disaster medicine has been detained in Iran since April of last year and has now been threatened with a death sentence.

The 45-year-old medical doctor and father of two, who has taught at universities in Belgium, Italy and Sweden, was on a business trip after being invited to attend workshops about disaster medicine at universities in Tehran and Shiraz, Iran.

He is a Swedish resident and was arrested in Iran without a warrant by Intelligence Ministry officials, according to Amnesty International, which has joined the call for his release.

Dr Djalali was suspected of being a threat to Iranian National Security and has been denied a fair trial. In protest, six weeks ago he started a hunger strike.

Thanks to his work, our nation and the world is a safer place

A former student of his, Emergency Department consultantDr Michael Spiteri, told this newspaper Dr Djalali had devoted his life to understanding disasters and how the medical profession should prepare itself to reduce the mortality and morbidity that they cause.

Dr Spiteri, an emergency and disaster medicine specialist, explained that Dr Djalali’s research has been consolidated with the publication of a large number of studies in important medical journals and presentations at medical conferences around the world.

In recent years, he worked with a significant number of agencies, and also provided his expertise to support and guide students during their specialist training.

“I came across Ahmadreza a few years back, when he was appointed my thesis tutor during my specialist studies in disaster medicine.

“During that period, Ahmadreza gave me much-needed support, and with his help, we developed a mathematical model of the Maltese acute healthcare system and how it would cope in a potential mass-casualty event,” he explained.

Dr Djalali was Dr Spiteri’s thesis supervisor at Crimedim in Novara, Italy, in 2013 and 2014.

The Maltese specialist described the Iranian researcher as an “excellent academic” who is proud of his country.

Wherever he was, Dr Djalali always disseminated his knowledge to all those who were in need, irrespective of belief, race, religion or nation. He is also a devoted family man and father of two young children.

“Thanks to his work, our nation and the world is a safer place. All of us have the duty to support him in this hour of need. The medical community, international agencies and several nations have now stepped in to try raise the awareness over this case,” he said, adding that people can also help by signing a petition so that justice will prevail.

More than 185,000 people have signed the online petition urging justice and freedom for Dr Djalali.

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