Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari executed, says state media | News

Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari has been executed after being convicted of stabbing to death a security guard, according to state media.

“The retaliation sentence against Navid Afkari, the killer of Hassan Turkman, was carried out this morning in Adelabad prison in Shiraz,” state TV quoted the chief justice of Fars province, Kazem Mousavi, as saying on Saturday.

Authorities had accused Afkari, 27, of stabbing the water supply company employee in the southern city of Shiraz. Iran broadcast the wrestler’s televised confession last week.

But Afkari said he was tortured into making a false confession, according to his family and activists. His lawyer said there was no proof of his guilt. Iran’s judiciary, however, denied the torture claims.

Afkari and his brothers were employed as construction workers in Shiraz, 680km (420 miles) 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, over the killing.

Al Jazeera’s Assed Baig, reporting from Tehran, said there are two different narratives about the murder.

“Outside Iran we’re hearing that Navid Afkari was arrested due to these protests that took place in 2018 and alleged killing of a security officer. Inside Iran, it’s very different. The judiciary released a statement a while ago – they said Navid Afkari was arrested after the murder of a 52-year-old water worker accompanying the Shiraz water company, and that murder took place on 23 July 2018.

“Navid Afkari was arrested by police a few days after, after they identified him using CCTV footage. As far as the judiciary is concerned, his arrest and conviction have nothing to do with the protests that took place,” said Baig.

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Afkari’s sentencing had triggered a social media campaign that portrayed him and his brothers as victims targeted for participating in the 2018 protests. On Tuesday, a global union representing 85,000 athletes had called for Iran’s expulsion from world sport if it executed Afkari.

United States President Donald Trump also expressed his own concerns.

“To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man’s life, and not execute him,” Trump tweeted earlier this month. “Thank you!”

Iran responded to Trump’s tweet by running an 11-minute state TV broadcast on Afkari, which included the weeping parents of Turkman.






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The broadcast included visuals of Afkari on a motorbike, saying he stabbed Turkman in the back, without explaining why he allegedly carried out the assault.

The state TV segment also showed blurred police documents and described the killing as a “personal dispute”, without elaborating.

It said Afkari’s mobile phone had been in the area and it showed surveillance footage of him walking down a street, talking on his phone.

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency dismissed Trump’s tweet in a feature story, saying that American sanctions have hurt Iranian hospitals amid the pandemic.

“Trump is worried about the life of a murderer while he puts many Iranian patients’ lives in danger by imposing severe sanctions,” the agency said.

Baig noted state TV has carried an interview with the parents of Hassan Turkman, and in it they said their son was murdered, and they had the right to retribution.

They added, “the foreign media had not even bothered speaking to them when their son was killed, and that he left behind three children. So there are two very different narratives,” said Baig.

source.



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