Iranian wrestler executed despite outcry

Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari was executed on Saturday after being convicted of stabbing a security guard to death during anti-government protests in 2018, state media said, in a case that has sparked international outcry.

“Afkari was executed after legal procedures were carried out at the insistence of the parents and the family of the victim,” the media quoted the head of the justice department in southern Fars province, Kazem Mousavi, as saying.

Afkari was convicted of killing Hassan Turkman, a water company security guard.

The case sparked international outcry, including from US president Donald Trump and UFC boss Dana White to spare the 27-year-old.

White admitted last week that he was trying to use his connections in the White House to spare Afkari’s life, saying: “The New York Times wrote a story this week about a famous wrestler from Iran called Navid Afkari. He went to a peaceful protest in Iran and he’s going to be executed for that.

“The only thing I could think to do was to call the President and see if he could help this man. He said: ‘Let us look into it, let me talk to my administration and see if there is something we can to do save his life.’

“Today the President tweeted the tweet attached to this video and I would like to say I too respectfully and humbly ask the government officials in Iran to not execute this man and spare his life.”

However, Iran’s Supreme Court rejected a review of the case in late August, according to state media.

Afkari, a 27-year-old Greco-Roman wrestler, 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 Afkari’s claims.

A global union representing 85,000 athletes called on Tuesday for Iran’s expulsion from world sport if it executed Afkari.

Afkari’s case had sparked an outcry from Iranians on social media and human rights groups.

US President Donald Trump also called on Iran this month not to execute the wrestler.

Iranian state television aired a video last week in which Afkari appeared to confess to Turkman’s killing.

State television showed what appeared to be written confessions by Afkari, but he said in a recording circulated on social media that he was coerced into signing the documents.

“I hit twice, once and then again,” Afkari was shown saying with a stabbing gesture during a police reconstruction of the killing.

Along with his two brothers, Afkari faced more than 20 charges, including “attending illegal gatherings, assembly and conspiracy to commit crimes against national security and insulting the supreme leader”.

Bahie Namju, the mother of the three men found guilty, put out her own video pleading for help to save her sons last week.

“I’m desperately asking for help from anyone who can hear

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