Iran has executed champion wrestler, Navid Afkari, after he was found guilty of murdering a security officer and “waging war against the state” during an anti-government demonstration in 2018.
While Iranian justice authorities claim that Afkari confessed to all charges, human rights organizations - including Amnesty International - assert that the confession was obtained through torture.
In a tape released by an Iranian human rights organization, Navid Afkari can be heard saying “There is not one shred of evidence in this damned case that shows I’m guilty. But they don’t want to listen to us. I realized that they are looking for a neck for their rope”.
In response to Afkari’s arrest, UN human rights experts have expressed alarm about the rising number of death penalties being received in Iran related to government protests.
In September 2018, Afkari was arrested alongside his two brothers Vahid and Habib who were sentenced to 54 and 27 years in prison respectively.
The European Union, US president Donald Trump and a union representing 85,000 athletes were just some of those who have voiced their anger about the execution of Navid Afkari.
Josep Borrel, spokesman for the chief of EU foreign policy, said “the European union is opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances and cases with no exception”.
Despite international outcry, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have decided that they will not ban Iran from the Olympic movement, saying that a ban would “punish athletes” for their country’s political regime.
According to Amnesty International, Iran executed 251 people in 2019 alone.