Navid Afkari, Iranian champion wrestler, has been executed after being accused of murder, defying international appeals for him to be spared.
Afkari was a national champion in wrestling, a sport that has a long history and is hugely popular in Iran.
The 27-year-old was sentenced to death over the murder of a security guard during his participation in a wave of anti-government protests in 2018 over economic hardship and political repression.
According to BBC Sport, the 27-year-old was executed in the early hours of Saturday in the Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz.
IRNA, Iran’s state-run news agency, quoted the head of the justice department in the southern Fars province as saying;
He was executed this morning after legal procedures were carried out at the insistence of the parents and the family of the victim.
Afkari was convicted of killing Hassan Turkman, a water company security guard, among other charges.
He had also said he was tortured into making a false confession but the Iran’s judiciary denied the claims. The country’s supreme court also rejected a review of the case in August.
His death sentence had earlier sparked global outrage with calls to overturn his execution.
World players association, an international body that represents about 85,000 professional athletes, had also called for Iran’s expulsion from world sports if the country go ahead with the execution.
Brendan Schwab, WPA director, had in a statement said;
The horrific act of executing an athlete can only be regarded as a repudiation of the humanitarian values that underpin sport.
Donald Trump, US president, was among those who called out on the Iranian government not to execute the wrestler.
Hearing that Iran is looking to execute a great and popular wrestling star, 27-year-old Navid Afkarai, whose sole act was an anti-government demonstration on the streets. They were protesting the “country’s worsening economic situation and inflation”.
To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man’s life, and not execute him. Thank you!
Vahid and Habib, Afkari’s brothers, were also sentenced to 54 and 27 years in prison in the same case.