On Saturday (September12, 2020), Iran State TV reported that the country’s authorities executed a wrestler, Navid Afkari for allegedly murdering a man. President Donald Trump has earlier asked for the 27-year-old condemned man’s life to be spared.
Afkari’s case had drawn the attention in 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 Hassan Torkaman, in the southern city of Shiraz amid the unrest. Chief Justice of Fars province Kazem Mousavi, stated that “The retaliation sentence against NavidAfkari, the killer of Hassan Torkaman, was carried out this morning in Adelabad prison in Shiraz.”
The state TV segment showed blurred police documents and described the killing as a ‘personal dispute,’ without elaborating. It also said Afkari’s cellphone had been in the area and showed surveillance footage of him walking down a street, talking on his phone. US President Trump had said on twitter: ‘Hearing that Iran is looking to execute a great and popular wrestling star, 27-year-old NavidAfkari, whose 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!’ Iran responded to Trump’s tweet with a nearly 11-minute state TV package on Afkari. It included the weeping parents of the slain water company employee, Hassan Torkaman. International Olympic Committee, condemned the execution and said its president Thomas Bach, “made direct personal appeals to the Supreme Leader & to the President of Iran this week & asked for mercy for NavidAfkari.” In a statement, it said that “The execution of wrestler NavidAfkari in Iran is very sad news. The IOC is shocked by this announcement today.” They also said that “It is deeply upsetting that the pleas of athletes from around the world & all the behind-the-scenes work of the IOC … did not achieve our goal. Our thoughts are with the family & friends of NavidAfkari". Supporters of the wrestler have said that Afkari was a political prisoner. They said he was targeted unfairly because he was a part of the protest. Mike Pompeo, Secretary of the state condemned the execution by tweeting that “It is an outrageous assault on human dignity, even by the despicable standards of this regime. The voices of the Iranian people will not be silenced.”