Former Iranian wrestling champion, Afkari executed

A former Iranian wrestling champion caught up in anti-government protests was put to death on Saturday after being convicted of murder charges in a trial widely criticised inside and outside the country as riddled with irregularities.

The early morning death by hanging of 27-year-old Navid Afkari came despite international calls that Iran halt the execution or face consequences. US officials including President Donald Trump and Amnesty International were among those calling for him to be spared.

“To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man’s life, and not execute him,” Mr Trump tweeted on 3 September. “Thank you!”

The execution was confirmed by an Iranian judiciary official and a family lawyer who were cited in Iranian and international news outlets.

A former national champion of Greco-Roman wrestling, Afkari was charged with killing a man described as an intelligence officer during August 2018 anti-government protests in the city of Shiraz. He was tried by both Iran’s ideologically hardline Revolutionary Court and an ordinary criminal court in proceedings described as grossly unfair and obscure, with limited defence access to counsel and little transparency.

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