In a shocking incident, the Iranian State authorities have reportedly executed a 27-year-old ace wrestler named Navid Afkari in the city of Shiraz on Friday. He was earlier sentenced to death for allegedly murdering a security guard during the anti-government protest in Iran in 2018.
As per reports, his brother Vahid and Habib had also been sentenced to 54 and 27 years in prison. Navid Afkari, a popular figure in Iran in the field of wrestling, had taken active part in anti-government protests that kickstarted owing to ‘political repression’ and ‘economic hardships’.
Navid was well-aware of his impending fate in the Islamic Republic of Iran. “If I am executed, I want you to know that an innocent person, even though he tried and fought with all his strength to be heard, was executed,” he was heard as saying in a leaked audio message. The ace wrestler had earlier stated that he was tortured by the law enforcement authorities into making a confession.
In an audio message from prison, Navid Afkari said that he was tortured & was forced to make confessions which he later retracted. The 27 yo wrestling champion was sentenced to 2 death sentences, 6 years of prison, &74 lashes for participating in #Iranprotests.#نوید_افکاری pic.twitter.com/PGCOBADJ1P— IRAN HRM (@IranHrm) September 1, 2020
Wrestler’s lawyer denies existence of any evidence
Speaking about the execution, his lawyer Hassan Younesi informed that Navid was denied the opportunity to meet his family one last time before his death. According to him, such a meeting is mandatory under Iranian law. In a tweet, he stated, “Were you in such a hurry to carry out the sentence that you deprived Navid of the last visit?” He also stated that there was no evidence to suggest that Navid committed the murder. As per Younesi, the video footage that had been produced in the court as ‘evidence was taken an hour before the crime.
Global condemnation of the execution of Navid Afkari
Condemning the execution as a ‘travesty of justice’, Amnesty International tweeted, “We are completely shocked, saddened & horrified at the secret execution of Navid Afkari, a young man with a promising future ahead of him. This travesty of justice needs immediate international action through public & private interventions.”
#Iran: We are completely shocked, saddened & horrified at the secret execution of Navid Afkari, a young man with a promising future ahead of him. This travesty of justice needs immediate int’l action through public & private interventions.https://t.co/lxAQ3sIDKG #نوید_افکاری— Amnesty International (@amnesty) September 12, 2020
The International Olympic Council Athlete’s Commission stated, “We are devastated to learn about the execution of our fellow athlete Navid Afkari. In the past days, the IOC has been working with our full support to save Navid’s life. We are very saddened that ours and the efforts of the athlete community didn’t achieve the desired result. Our thoughts and prayers are with Navid’s family and friends in these very difficult times.”
In a statement, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said, “The execution of wrestler Navid Afkari in Iran is very sad news. The IOC is shocked by this announcement today.” The body said that the IOC President Thomas Bach had made several appeals to the President of Iran and the Supreme Leader, seeking for clemency on Navid’s behalf.
“It is deeply upsetting that the pleas of athletes from around the world and all the behind-the-scenes work of the IOC, together with the NOC of Iran, United World Wrestling and the National Iranian Wrestling Federation, did not achieve our goal. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Navid Afkari,” the statement read.