The execution of an Iranian wrestler, Navid Afkari, who was convicted for a murder case in an anti-government protests in August 2018 has attracted an international outcry and condemned by rights groups and U.S. President Donald Trump.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has also reacted after the Iranian republic on Saturday morning September 12, executed the young wrestler.
Afkari was convicted of killing a security guard with the government’s water and sewage department in the southern city of Shiraz in 2018 during mass antigovernment protests.
He was executed in the morning at a prison in the southern city of Shiraz, provincial prosecutor general Kazem Mousavi was quoted as saying on Iranian state television’s website.
The 27-year-old Afkari had been found guilty of “voluntary homicide” for stabbing to death Hossein Torkman, according to the judiciary.
On the day of the ‘murder’, Shiraz and other Iranian cities had been the scene of anti-government protests and demonstrations over economic and social hardship.
Reports allege Afkari was condemned on the basis of confessions extracted under torture, and now the IOC has reacted, stating their disappointment at his execution despite their pleas.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it was “shocked” by Saturday’s execution
“The IOC is shocked by this announcement today,” the statement published on Twitter reads
IOC 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, while respecting the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“It is deeply upsetting that the pleas of athletes from around the world and all the behind-the-scenes work of the IOC, together with the NOC of Iran, United World Wrestling and the National Iranian Wrestling Federation, did not achieve our goal.
“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Navid Afkari,” Bach added.
US President Donald Trump had earlier this month pleaded for Afkari’s life saying that his “sole act was an anti-government demonstration on the streets”.
“To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man’s life, and not execute him. Thank you!” he wrote on Twitter.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the execution of Navid Afkari is “a vicious and cruel act.”
“We condemn it in the strongest terms. It is an outrageous assault on human dignity, even by the despicable standards of this regime,” Pompeo said on Twitter.
London-based rights group Amnesty International said the “secret execution” was a “horrifying travesty of justice that needs immediate international action.”
“Carrying out his death sentence with such utter disregard for the basic principles of justice further demonstrates the cruelty of the death penalty. A series of judges in different courts used forced ‘confessions’ obtained under torture to convict him, and consistently failed to investigate his complaints of torture,” Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.
Many Iranians condemned his execution on social media.
Afkari had said he was tortured into making a false confession, according to his family and activists, and his attorney says there was no proof of his guilt.
Iran’s judiciary has denied the torture claims.
Afkari’s lawyer, Hassan Younessi, said on Twitter that a number of people in Shiraz were to meet on September 13 with the slain worker’s family to ask for their forgiveness.
He also said that based on criminal law in Iran “the convict has a right to meet his family before the execution.”
“Were you in such a hurry to carry out the sentence that you deprived Navid of his last visit?” Younessi wrote on Twitter.
A global union representing 85,000 athletes on September 8 called for Iran’s expulsion from world sport if it executed Afkari.
Afkari was a national champion in wrestling, which is a widely popular sport with a long history in Iran.
Afkari’s brothers, Vahid and Habib, were sentenced to 54 and 27 years, respectively, in prison in the same case, rights activists have said.