Who was Navid Afkari and why was he executed?

NAVID Afkari, 27, was a world-class wrestler from Iran who was executed in the early hours of September 12, 2020.

But who was Navid Afkari, and why was he executed?

Who was Navid Afkari?

Navid Afkari was a 27-year-old Iranian wrestler accused of murder by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Defying international appeals for him to be spared, Navid was executed in the Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz.

The champion wrestler was accused of murdering a riot cop in the summer of 2018.

Thousands of Iranians protested the harsh sentence on social media and launched hashtags to force the authorities not to carry out the death penalty.  

His brothers Vahid and Habib were sentenced to 54 and 27 years in prison in the same case, respectively.

Navid was executed in the early hours of September 12, 2020.

Why was he executed in Iran?

In Iranian law the family of a murder victim has the right to forgive or insist on capital punishment.  

On August 29, Iranian human rights activists reported that the Supreme Court had confirmed the death sentence of Afkari.

The world class wrestler first confessed to the killing of the state security agent but later said he had made the confession under immense physical and psychological duress.  

According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Navid and his brother Vahid Afkari were severely tortured to give confessions.

US President Donald Trump had also appealed for mercy, saying the wrestler’s “sole act was an anti-government demonstration on the streets”.

Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “A series of judges in different courts used forced ‘confessions’ obtained under torture to convict him, and consistently failed to investigate his complaints of torture.

“Leaked voice recordings of him in court expose how his pleas for judges to investigate his torture complaints and bring another detainee who had witnessed his torture to testify were unlawfully and cruelly ignored.

“Given the impunity which prevails in Iran, we urge the international community, including UN human rights bodies and EU member states, to take strong action through public and private interventions.

“We deplore the Iranian authorities’ repeated use of the death penalty, which has earned it the shameful status of consistently being among the world’s most prolific executioners.”

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