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Iran Shows No Mercy to Accused Wrestler

Navid Afkari said he gave a false confession under torture
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 12, 2020 1:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Iranian state TV on Saturday reported that the country's authorities executed a wrestler for allegedly murdering a man, after President Trump asked for the 27-year-old condemned man's life to be spared, the AP reports. State TV quoted the chief justice of Fars province, Kazem Mousavi, as saying: "The retaliation sentence against Navid Afkari, the killer of Hassan Torkaman, was carried out this morning in Adelabad prison in Shiraz." 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. Authorities accused Afkari of stabbing a water supply company employee in the southern city of Shiraz amid the unrest.

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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. The International Olympic Committee in a statement Saturday said it was shocked and saddened by the news of the wrestler's execution, and that the committee's president, Thomas Bach, "had made direct personal appeals to the Supreme Leader and to the President of Iran this week and asked for mercy for Navid 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, passed word that she supported Afkari.

(Read more Iran stories.)

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