14th September 2020

Questions raised over execution of Iranian wrestler

The United Nations has questioned why the trial of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari was conducted behind closed doors and why his execution was carried out before his family had the chance to ask the family of his alleged victim for a pardon, as is customary in Iran. ‘If Afkari was guilty of murder, why was the trial conducted behind closed doors and through the use of forced confessions extracted under torture?’, read a statement from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). ‘The execution of Navid Afkari was summary and arbitrary, imposed following a process that did not meet even the most basic substantive or procedural fair trial standards, behind a smokescreen of a murder charge’. 

It is understood that under Iranian law, the family of those convicted with a death sentence are allowed to meet the family of the murder victim to seek a pardon. The OHCHR said that Afkari’s family arrived at the airport in Shiraz to meet with the family of the victim, only to find out that Navid Afkari had been executed on 12 September. It is understood that Navid Afkari was secretly buried at night on the same day that he was executed, denying his family the opportunity to attend his funeral.

Afkari was sentenced to death due to his alleged part in the murder of Hassan Torkaman, a security guard for a water company (ABFA) office in Shiraz, during August 2018 anti-government protests. Afkari alleged that he was tortured into confessing to the murder, via a letter published by the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran, a political opponent of the Iranian State. The allegation that he was tortured is disputed by the official news agency of the Iranian judiciary, which maintains that he is guilty of murder.

‘All judicial proceedings in Navid Afkari’s case were conducted in the presence of his lawyers, and his sentence of retribution was upheld by various judicial authorities’, read a tweet (below) from Mizan News Agency. ‘The Navid Afkari verdict and the personal rights of his parents were enforced this morning’. In an apparent show of support for its verdict, Mizan News Agency published a list of athletes who had been found guilty of murder. 

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