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Tension in Iran as wrestler Navid Afkari executed for murder

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Iran said it executed a young wrestler on Saturday over the murder of a public sector worker during anti-government protests in August 2018.

Navid Afkari was executed in the morning at a prison in the southern city of Shiraz, provincial prosecutor general Kazem Mousavi was quoted as saying on state television’s website.

The 27-year-old had been found guilty of “voluntary homicide” for stabbing to death Hossein Torkman, a water department worker, on August 2, 2018, according to the judiciary.

Shiraz and several other urban centres across the Islamic republic had been the scene that day of anti-government protests and demonstrations over economic and social hardship.

Reports published abroad say Afkari was condemned on the basis of confessions extracted under torture, prompting online campaigns of support for his release.

The judiciary’s Mizan Online news agency denied the accusations.

The sentence had been carried out at “the insistence of the victim’s family”, said Mousavi, the prosecutor general for Fars province.

Afkari’s lawyer, Hassan Younessi, said on Twitter that a number of people in Shiraz were to meet with the slain worker’s family on Sunday to ask for their forgiveness.

He also said that based on criminal law in Iran “the convict has a right to meet his family before the execution.”

US President Donald Trump had pleaded for Afkari’s life earlier this month, saying that his “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!” he wrote on Twitter.

Trump has maintained an aggressive approach of “maximum pressure” toward longtime US foe Iran since becoming president, enacting crippling economic sanctions after withdrawing from a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran and world powers in 2018.

(AFP)

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