Iran: secret execution of wrestler Navid Afkari a 'travesty of justice'

The secret execution this morning of wrestling champion Navid Afkari, without prior notice to his family or lawyer, after a grossly unfair trial, is a horrifying travesty of justice that needs immediate international action.

Navid Afkari, 27, had been subjected to a shocking catalogue of human rights violations and crimes, including enforced disappearance; torture and other ill-treatment, leading to forced “confessions”; and denial of access to a lawyer and other fair trial guarantees.

Before his execution, another voice recording from inside prison was released, in which he said: “If I am executed, I want you to know that an innocent person, even though he tried and fought with all his strength to be heard, was executed.”

Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

“Navid Afkari was a young man with a promising future ahead of him. Carrying out his death sentence with such utter disregard for the basic principles of justice further demonstrates the cruelty of the death penalty. A series of judges in different courts used forced ‘confessions’ obtained under torture to convict him, and consistently failed to investigate his complaints of torture.

“This young man desperately sought help in court to receive a fair trial and prove his innocence. Leaked voice recordings of him in court expose how his pleas for judges to investigate his torture complaints and bring another detainee who had witnessed his torture to testify were unlawfully and cruelly ignored.

“Given the impunity which prevails in Iran, we urge the international community, including UN human rights bodies and EU member states, to take strong action through public and private interventions.

“We deplore the Iranian authorities’ repeated use of the death penalty, which has earned it the shameful status of consistently being among the world’s most prolific executioners. There is no justification for the death penalty, which is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, and we urge the Iranian authorities to abolish it.”

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