Iran said Saturday it has executed a wrestler accused of killing a man during anti-government protests two years ago, carrying out the sentence despite international outcry and pleas for mercy from President Trump and Ultimate Fighting Championship chief Dana White.
“The retaliation sentence against Navid Afkari, the killer of Hassan Torkaman, was carried out this morning in Adelabad prison in Shiraz,” Kazem Mousavi, the chief justice of Fars province said on state TV.
Iranian authorities claimed Afkari, 27, murdered water supply company worker Turkman during 2018 protests against the country’s ruling Shiite theocracy.
Officials claimed on state TV the alleged killing was over a “personal dispute,” but provided few other details save for blurred police documents, surveillance video and a cellphone ping they said tied Afkari to the crime scene.
The Islamic Republic broadcast his purported confession on TV last week.
Supporters of the championship wrestler have insisted he was a political prisoner who was unfairly targeted because of his participation in the protests.
“To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man’s life, and not execute him. Thank you!” Trump tweeted last week, saying his “sole act was an anti-government demonstration on the streets.”
Iran’s Ayatollah’s immediately struck back after the tweet, producing an 11-minute video aired on state television, showing footage both of Turkman’s crying parents and video of Afkari allegedly confessing to the crime while on the back of a motorcycle.
The execution was also condemned by the International Olympic Committee, which revealed Saturday that it’s president, Thomas Bach, “made direct personal appeals to the Supreme Leader and to the President of Iran this week and asked for mercy for Navid Afkari.”
“The execution of wrestler Navid Afkari in Iran is very sad news. The IOC is shocked by this announcement today,” they said in a statement Saturday, which also revealed they had personally lobbied the Iranians on the issue as well.
“It is deeply upsetting that the pleas of athletes from around the world and all the behind-the-scenes work of the IOC … did not achieve our goal. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Navid Afkari,” they said.
With Post wires