Iran executed a young wrestler despite an international campaign to save him the death penalty – including a plea from Donald Trump.
The 27-year-old Navid Afkari was executed on Saturday in the southern city of Shiraz, Iranian state television said.
Iran alleged that Afkari was guilty of the murder of Hossein Torkman, a water service worker who was stabbed to death during protests in the country in August 2018.
Tehran posted an 11-minute confession from Afkari last week, but the wrestler had continued to protest his innocence through his own social media channels.
Activists argued that he was held responsible for the murder by the regime, which sought to silence one of its critics.
Iranian state television aired an obvious confession by wrestler Navid Afkari (pictured), who was executed today after being charged with murder in 2018
In a final message from Afkari posted on social media after his execution was announced, the wrestler maintained his innocence.
"I have exhausted all recourse to the judicial system of the Islamic Republic. They denied my requests for a retrial," he says in the audio clip. This means that after two years the judiciary has decided to execute me.
& # 39; The Islamic Republic of Iran is about to execute an innocent person like me. You turned off my voice and are about to take my life.
"I ask every freedom-loving person from every ideology to be my voice and that of my family, because the honor of man has no meaning without the right to justice."
"I have all kinds of documents to prove my innocence. If I am ever executed, people with these documents should know that in the 21st century, with all the talk of the United Nations about human rights in the world, they are still innocent people executed in Iran. "
US President Trump had said last week: “When he heard that Iran was about to execute a great and popular wrestling star, Navid Afkarai, 27, whose only act was an anti-government demonstration on the street.
“For the Iranian leaders, I would be very grateful if you would spare this young man's life and not execute him. Thank you! & # 39; He tweeted and tagged a Fox News story about the wrestler and the UFC mixed martial arts organization and its president Dana White.
US President Donald Trump asked the Iranian authorities to reconsider the death sentence of the "great and popular wrestling star" in a series of tweets on Friday (picture)
On Saturday, Iran responded to Trump's tweet with a nearly 11-minute state television package about Afkari.
Among them were the weeping parents of the employee of the murdered water company, Hassan Torkaman.
The package also showed footage of Afkari on the back of a motorcycle and claimed he stabbed Torkaman in the back without explaining why he allegedly carried out the attack.
The state television segment showed blurred police documents and described the murder as a "personal argument" without elaborating on it.
It was also said that Afkari's cell phone was in the area and showed surveillance videos of him walking down a street and talking on his phone.
Those who support Afkari have accused the police of torturing a confession made by him after they found the surveillance footage.
Shiraz and several other urban centers across the Islamic Republic had been the scene of anti-government protests and demonstrations over economic and social difficulties that day.
Navid (left) and his brother Vahid (right) were sentenced by the Supreme Court of Iran along with a third brother, Habib
Reports released overseas say that Afkari was convicted on the basis of confessions broadcast on television after being extracted under torture, which sparked online campaigns to support his release.
Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, who lives in Paris, responded to the news.
"The religious dictatorship that rules Iran cannot survive even a day without repression, execution and torture," she said in a statement.
& # 39; The United Nations Security Council, its member states, the UN Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the EU and all international human rights organizations must take effective and concrete action against the Iranian regime to execute Navid Afkari and 120,000 political measures prisoners .
"Silence and inaction are synonymous with the green light and complicity with the regime to continue its atrocities."
The London-based rights group Amnesty International has repeatedly urged Iran to stop broadcasting videos of "confessions" by suspects that they "violate the rights of the accused".
An Iranian opposition group quoted their mother Bahieh Namjou (pictured) as saying that the brothers had been arrested by plainclothes officers without an arrest warrant
The judiciary's Mizan Online news agency denied the allegations.
According to Amnesty, Afkari's last contact with his family was a quick phone call on September 6th.
His two brothers Vahid and Habib are still in the same prison as him, the group said in a statement.
The sentence was carried out at the "urging of the victim's family," said Mousavi, the prosecutor general of Fars province.
Afkari's lawyer, Hassan Younessi, said on Twitter that some people in Shiraz should meet with the family of the murdered worker on Sunday to ask for forgiveness.
He also said that under criminal law in Iran, the convict "has the right to meet his family before the execution".
"Were you in such a hurry to enforce the sentence that you took Navid's last visit?"
US President Donald Trump asked for Afkari's life earlier this month and said his "only act was an anti-government demonstration on the street".
Trump imposed devastating sanctions on Iran after unilaterally withdrawing the United States from the nuclear deal that Tehran signed with the world powers
UFC mixed martial arts president Dana White has also called on Iran to drop the wrestler's death sentence
Since taking office, Trump has maintained an aggressive approach of "maximum pressure" on longtime US enemy Iran and has imposed crippling economic sanctions after withdrawing from a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran and the world powers in 2018.
A global union representing 85,000 athletes had also urged Iran to save the wrestler's life.
In a statement posted on its website Tuesday, World Players United urged the International Olympic Committee to use its leverage to help Afkari.
The Persian hashtag # Navid-Afkari was also widely used on Twitter to protest the execution.
BERLIN: A supporter of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the Iranian Society in Exile in Berlin holds a poster with the picture of the Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari in front of the Iranian embassy in Berlin while he is protesting against his execution
LONDON: Protesters wave the lion and sun flags of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and the white flag of the Iranian People's Mujahideen, two Iranian opposition groups, outside the Iranian Embassy in London to protest the execution of Navid Afkari
Iranian rights activist Emaddein Baghi tweeted that Afkari's execution was a "great sin" as the judiciary should have tried to convince the murdered man's family to forgive the wrestler.
Lawyer Babak Paknia also criticized the judiciary for its "rush" to carry out the sentence.
"Even if a murder had really taken place, isn't it the judicial system's procedure to do whatever it takes to be forgiven?" he tweeted.
Paknia represents three men sentenced to death in November for links to similar protests. However, the trio's execution was suspended following a motion to the Supreme Court to review the verdict.
Amnesty said Iran executed at least 251 people last year, the second highest number in the world after China.
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