Iranian state television reports that the country’s authorities executed a wrestler for the alleged murder of a man after President Donald Trump asked to save the 27-year-old convict’s life.
State television quoted Fars Provincial Chief Justice Kazem Mousavi on Saturday as saying: “The retribution sentence against Navid Afkari, the murderer of Hassan Turkman, was carried out this morning in Adelabad prison in Shiraz.”
Afkari’s case caught the attention of a social media campaign depicting him and his brothers as victims of participating in protests against Iran’s Shiite theocracy in 201
Iran televised the wrestler’s confession last week. The segment resembled hundreds of other alleged forced confessions aired in the Islamic Republic over the past decade.
The case revitalized calls within the country for Iran to suspend the use of the death penalty. Even incarcerated Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who had been on hunger strike for almost a month over conditions at Evin Prison in Tehran amid the coronavirus pandemic, said she supported Afkari.
Previously, President Trump had tweeted his own concerns about Afkari’s case.
“For the Iranian leaders, I would be very grateful if you spared this young man’s life and did not execute him,” Trump wrote last week. “Thank you!”
Iran responded to Mr Trump’s tweet with a nearly 11-minute state television package about Afkari. Among them were the weeping parents of the employee of the murdered water company, Hassan Torkaman. The package contained footage of Afkari on the back of a motorcycle saying he stabbed Torkaman in the back without explaining why he allegedly carried out the attack.
The state television segment showed blurred police documents and described the murder as a “personal argument” without elaborating on it. It was said that Afkari’s cell phone was in the area and it showed surveillance videos of him walking down a street talking on his phone.
The semi-official Iranian news agency Tasnim also rejected Mr Trump’s tweet in a report, saying that American sanctions had hurt Iranian hospitals amid the pandemic.
“Trump is worried about the life of a murderer while he is putting the lives of many Iranian patients at risk with severe sanctions,” the agency said.