Iranian wrestler executed at ‘insistence of murder victim’s parents and family’

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Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari has been executed after being convicted of stabbing a security guard to death during anti-government protests in 2018.

The case led to an international outcry which included US President Donald Trump calling for the 27-year-old’s life to be spared.

Afkari was executed Saturday morning (local time) “after legal procedures were carried out at the insistence of the parents and the family of the victim”, Iranian state media quoted the head of the justice department in southern Fars province, Kazem Mousavi, as saying.

The Greco-Roman wrestler was convicted of killing Hassan Turkman, a water company security guard.

Iran’s Supreme Court rejected a review of the case in late August after Afkari’s family and activists said he was tortured into making a false confession.

Afkari’s lawyer said there was no proof of his guilt and accused authorities of denying his client a family visit before the execution, as required by law.

“Were you in so much hurry to execute the sentence that you also deprived Navid of a last meeting?” Hassan Younesi posted on Twitter.

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There was no immediate reaction by Iranian officials to the attorney’s accusation.

On Tuesday, the World Players Association, a global union representing 85,000 athletes, called for Iran’s expulsion from world sport if it executed Afkari.

The killing of the security guard took place during some of the worst unrest in a decade over economic hardships.

Iran’s clerical rulers have blamed the street protests on what they call “thugs” linked to exiles as well as the United States and Israel.

Iranian state television aired a video last week in which Afkari appeared to confess to Turkman’s killing.

The television also showed what appeared to be written confessions by Afkari, but he said in a recording circulated on social media that he was coerced into signing the documents.

“I hit twice, once and then again,” Afkari was shown saying with a stabbing gesture during a police reconstruction of the killing.

Human rights groups frequently accuse Iran’s state media of airing coerced confessions. Iran denies the accusation.

Reuters

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