Navid Afkari executed: Famous Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari has been executed after being convicted of murder during an anti-government protests in 2018, State media said on Saturday.
He was executed “this morning after legal procedures were carried out at the insistence of the family of the victim,” the media quoted the head of the justice department.
Afkari had said he was tortured into making a false confession, according to his family and activists, and his attorney says there is no proof of his guilt. Iran’s judiciary has denied the torture claims.
Iran broadcast the wrestler’s televised confession last week. The segment resembled hundreds of other suspected coerced confessions aired over the last decade in the Islamic Republic.
Afkari’s case had drawn the attention of a social media campaign that portrayed him and his brothers as victims targeted over participating in protests against Iran’s Shiite theocracy in 2018.
A global union representing 85,000 athletes called on Tuesday for Iran’s expulsion from world sport if it executed Afkari.
The case revived a demand inside the country for Iran to stop carrying out the death penalty. Even imprisoned Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, herself nearly a month into a hunger strike over conditions at Tehran’s Evin prison amid the coronavirus pandemic, passed word that she supported Afkari.
U.S. President Donald Trump also called on Iran not to execute the wrestler. “To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man’s life, and not execute him,” Trump wrote last week.