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Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari was executed despite an international campaign



The 27-year-old was executed in a Shiraz prison, according to IRNA. According to the Iranian state media Mizan, he was sentenced to death during the protests in Shiraz in August 2018 for the murder of Hasan Turkman, the Iranian government’s water and sanitation security agent.

Iranian judicial spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmaeili was quoted by the Tehran’s daily Hamshari as saying on Wednesday that Afkari had been sentenced to the Islamic judgment of Ghesas [qisas] or “retaliation in kind”.

According to Hamshari, Esmaeili said Afkari needed to appease the victim’s family by paying a refund. If he were unable to do so, the judiciary would have to carry out the death sentence as the case had already been examined by the Supreme Court and 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 allow him to pay refunds.

The World Players Association, an international organization representing professional athletes, protested the verdict and called for Iran to face expulsion from international sport, including the Olympic movement, if the execution is carried out.

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

Iran is under pressure to stop executing three protesters

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

Esmaeili responded to the protests, saying, according to the Tehran newspaper, that the campaign aimed at stopping the execution led the judiciary to transmit to Iranian state television IRIB a confession and reenactments recorded by Afkari himself.

Afkari’s case aroused interest beyond the sports community. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called for international intervention and a new trial.

US President Donald Trump got involved last week and most recently asked Iranian leaders to save Afkari’s life. “When they heard that Iran was about to execute a great and popular wrestling star, the 27-year-old Navid Afkari, whose only act was an anti-government demonstration in the street. They protested the deteriorating economic situation and inflation in the country.” Trump tweeted.

“For the leaders of Iran, I would be very grateful if you spared this young man’s life and did not execute him. Thank you!” He added.


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