Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari was executed after being convicted of stabbing a security officer, according to state media.
“The retribution sentence against Navid Afkari, the murderer of Hassan Turkman, was carried out this morning in Adelabad prison in Shiraz,” state television quoted the chief judge of Fars province, Kazem Mousavi, on Saturday.
Authorities had accused 27-year-old Afkari of stabbing an employee of the water utility in the southern city of Shiraz. Iran televised the wrestler’s confession last week.
But Afkari said he was tortured for making a false confession, according to his family and activists. His lawyer said there was no evidence of his guilt. However, the Iranian judiciary denied the torture claims.
Afkari and his brothers were employed as construction workers in Shiraz, 680 km south of the capital Tehran.
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The provincial court in Shiraz also sentenced Afkari’s brothers Vahid Afkari and Habib Afkari to 54 and 27 years in prison, respectively, for murder.
Al Jazeera Assed Baig, who reports from Tehran, said that there are two different narratives about the murder.
“Outside Iran, we hear that Navid Afkari was arrested for these protests in 2018 and the alleged murder of a security officer. Inside Iran, it’s very different. The judiciary released a statement some time ago – they said it was Navid Afkari . ” After the murder of a 52-year-old water worker who accompanies the Shiraz Water Company, this murder was arrested on July 23, 2018.
“Navid Afkari was arrested by the police a few days later after they identified him from CCTV footage. As far as the judiciary is concerned, his arrest and conviction have nothing to do with the protests,” Baig said.
Afkari’s conviction sparked a social media campaign portraying him and his brothers as victims of participating in the 2018 protests. On Tuesday, a global union representing 85,000 athletes called for Iran to be excluded from world sport if it were to execute Afkari.
The President of the United States, Donald Trump, also raised his own concerns.
“For the Iranian leaders, I would be very grateful if you spared this young man’s life and did not execute him,” Trump tweeted earlier this month. “Thank you!”
Iran responded to Trump’s tweet with an 11-minute state television broadcast about Afkari, which included Turkman’s weeping parents.
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The broadcast included pictures of Afkari on a motorcycle and said he stabbed Turkman in the back without explaining why he allegedly carried out the attack.
The state television segment also showed blurry 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 cell phone.
The semi-official Iranian news agency Tasnim rejected 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.
Baig noticedtate TV interviewed Hassan Turkman’s parents in which they said their son was murdered and that they have the right to retaliation.
They added, “The foreign media didn’t even bother to speak to you when your son was killed and that he left three children behind. So there are two very different narratives,” Baig said.