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Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari was executed despite the international campaign



The 27-year-old was executed in a Shiraz prison, according to IRNA. According to Iranian state media Mizan, he was sentenced to death in connection with the murder of Iranian government water and sewage department security officer Hasan Turkman during the August 2018 protests in Shiraz.

Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmaeili was quoted by Tehran Hamshari municipality newspaper as saying on Wednesday that Afkari was sentenced to the Islamic verdict of ghesas [qisas] or “pay in kind”.

According to Hamshari, Esmaeili said Afkari had to appease the victim’s family by paying restitution. Had he not been able to do so, the judiciary would have been required to carry out the death sentence, because the case had already been examined by the Supreme Court and because the courts said he had already confessed to killing Hassan Turkman.

Irna reported Saturday that Afkari was executed after the victim̵

7;s family refused to forgive him and allowed him to pay restitutions.

The World Players Association, an international body representing professional athletes, had protested the ruling and called for Iran to be threatened with expulsion from international sport, including the Olympic movement, if the execution was carried out.

“Navid was one of thousands of Iranian citizens who took part in spontaneous demonstrations that year against economic hardship and political repression in Iran,” said a WPA statement. “However, it has been unfairly targeted by the Iranian authorities who want to set an example for a popular and high-profile athlete and intimidate others who might dare to exercise their human right to participate in peaceful protests.”

Iran under pressure to stop the executions of three protesters

The WPA said in the statement that Afkari was “sentenced to death twice after being tortured for making a false confession”.

Facing the protests, Esmaeili said, according to the Tehran newspaper, that the campaign to stop the execution led the judiciary to provide a videotaped confession and re-enactments carried out by Afkari himself on Iranian state TV IRIB.

Afkari’s case has aroused interest beyond sports circles. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for international intervention and a retrial.

US President Donald Trump got involved last week, asking Iranian leaders to spare Afkari’s life. “Hearing that Iran is trying to execute a great and popular wrestling star, 27-year-old Navid Afkari, whose only act was an anti-government demonstration in the streets. They were protesting the worsening economic situation and inflation of the country ‘”, Trump tweeted.

“To the Iranian leaders, I would appreciate it very much if I spared this young man’s life and didn’t execute him. Thank you!” He added.


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