Navid Afkari, a wrestler from Shiraz arrested during protests in August 2018, has been executed in Iran.
Akari was handed down two death sentences: one for the alleged murder of a Shiraz intelligence agency official, and a second for moharebeh, or “waging war on God,” for taking part in protests.
The murder charge was believed to be fabricated, not least because it was based on forced confessions, and there was insufficient evidence that Afkari had even participated in the demonstrations.
The execution was carried out on the morning of September 12, despite the family of the man who was killed, Hassan Torkaman, agreeing to pardon him. Authorities carried out the execution before the Torkaman and Afkari families were able to meet.
Under sharia and Iranian law, if the family of a murder victim agrees to forgive and pardon his or her alleged killer, the death sentence can be commuted and replaced with a lesser sentence.
Hojatoleslam Kazem Mousavi, the Chief Justice of Fars Province, and Mizan news agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Republic’s judiciary, confirmed the execution. It contradicted reports that the Torkaman family had pardoned Afkari, saying he had been executed at Adilabad prison in Shiraz at the insistence of the family following what the outlet described as “legal formalities.”Human rights activists and athletes from around the world had pleaded with the Iranian authorities to spare his life. The international wrestling community had been particularly vocal, and a group of Swedish politicians also appealed to the Iranian government. Among those who spoke out in support of Navid Afkari were Sydney Olympic freestyle wrestling champion and national team coach Brandon Sly, German Frank Schaftler, a three-time world wrestling gold medalist the chairman of the United.