Iran executes wrestler Navid Afkari amid global outcry, Olympic body expresses shock
Tehran/IBNS: Iran has executed a 27-year-old wrestler for allegedly murdering a government employee despite appeals by athletes across the world and international bodies, an AFP report said.
The country’s judiciary found Navid Afkari guilty of stabbing to death Hossein Torkman, a water department employee, on August 2, 2018, said the report.
According to the report, provincial prosecutor general Kazem Mousavi said in the state television’s website that the athlete was executed at a prison in the southern city of Shiraz.
The execution has evoked shock from the International Olympic Committee and has drawn widespread condemnation, said the report.
The International Olympic Committee said the execution was "deeply upsetting" as the pleas by athletes around the world and international bodies could not stop it.
"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Navid Afkari," the IOC said in a statement, reported AFP.
Reports published outside Iran said Afkari was convicted on the basis of confessions aired on TV, which had been extracted under torture, the report informed, adding that this had triggered online campaigns for his release.
Amnesty International, a global organisation focused on human rights, has demanded a halt on the broadcast of confessions by the suspects, saying it violates the defendant’s rights, which has been denied by the judiciary’s news agency Mizan Agency, the report said.
#NavidAfkari was a young man with a promising future ahead of him. Carrying out his death sentence with such utter disregard for the basic principles of justice further demonstrates the cruelty of the death penalty. https://t.co/M4qErn19Op— Amnesty International (@amnesty) September 13, 2020
Afkari was executed at the "the insistence of the victim's family" said Mousavi, the prosecutor general for Fars province.
However, a number of people were to meet the victim’s family in Shiraz on Sunday to seek their forgiveness, Afkari’s lawyer Hassan Younessi had tweeted.
He also questioned why the prosecution was in such a hurry that Afkari was denied a last visit by his family, a right given to a convict by the criminal law in Iran.
US President Donald Trump, who has continued his countries “aggressive approach” against Iran, also appealed to Iran in a tweet to spare the wrestler’s life.
"To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man's life, and not execute him. Thank you!" he wrote.
The AFP report said a global union representing 85,000 athletes had also appealed to Iran to stop Afkari’s execution.
Tuesday last, World Players United had urged the International Olympic Committee to use its weight to help Afkari.
Sweden, too, condemned the athlete’s execution. "Appalled by reports of the execution of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari," its foreign minister, Ann Linde, tweeted.
Wrestling is a very popular sport in Iran, one of the superpowers in the world.