Iran has executed champion wrestler Navid Afkari, according to Tehran's state-run news agency IRNA, despite a high-profile international campaign calling for the sentence not to be carried out. Afkari was executed on Saturday morning after being convicted of stabbing to death a security guard during anti-government protests in 2018.
Afkari was a political prisoner and the Iran regime reportedly tortured him repeatedly over the past two years in prison and obtained forced confessions. His execution once again reflects the regime's desperate need for stepping up repression. Afkari's hanging comes amid growing tide of popular unrest and people's uprising in Iran that the country has failed to repress.
Almost a Murder
According to IRNA, the 27-year-old wrestler was executed at a prison in Shiraz. Afkari had been sentenced to death in connection with the murder of the Iranian government's water and sewage department's security agent Hasan Turkman during the August 2018 protests in Shiraz.
The execution took place "this morning after legal procedures were carried out at the insistence of the parents and the family of the victim," Iran's state media quoted the head of the justice department in the southern Fars province. The execution comes a couple of days after Iran's judiciary spokesperson Gholam Hossein Esmaeili was quoted by the Tehran Municipality's daily newspaper Hamshari as saying that Afkari has been sentenced to the Islamic verdict of ghesas (qisas) or "retribution-in-kind."
Esmaelili had reportedly also said that Afkari, in order to compensate for the loss to the victim's family, was required to pay with his own life. IRNA also reported that Afkari's execution had to be carried out after the victim's family refused to forgive him and asked him to pay for restitution.
Afkari's execution comes despite a high-profile international campaign calling to spare his life. The wrestler had been subject to repeated torture in the prison wherein authorities obtained false confessions from him, according to his family and activists. A section of the activists and attorneys claim that there is no proof of his guilt. However, Iran's regime has time and again denied Afkari being tortured in prison.
The champion wrestler's execution once again reflects Iran regime's desperate need for stepping up repression. Despite these executions of political prisoners, the regime hasn't succeeded in stemming the growing tide of popular unrest and people's uprising in the Islamic country.
Afkari's execution has also been condemned by National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). "The international community must hold the mullahs to account for their human rights abuses," the NCR wrote on its website following the execution. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of NCRI, said: "The people of Iran and its brave youth will not remain silent against the cowardly execution of this courageous son of Shiraz. They will rise in solidarity with the heroic people of Fars."
Over the past few weeks, activists from different countries had appealed to Iran to spare the athlete's life. Even President Donald Trump had appealed to Iran this month not to execute Afkari. A global union representing 85,000 athletes also called on Tuesday for Iran's expulsion from world sport if it executed Afkari.