State media reported that Iranian wrestler Naveed Afkari was hanged after being accused of stabbing a security guard to death.
“The retaliatory sentence against Naveed Abkari, the killer of Hassan Turkman, was carried out at the Adilabad Jail in Shiraz this morning,” Chief Justice of the Force Province Qasem Mousavi quoted state television as saying on Saturday.
Authorities have accused Afgari, 27, of stabbing an employee of a water supply company in the southern city of Shiraz. Iran aired a televised confession of the wrestler last week.
But Afkari said he was tortured for making a false confession, according to his family and activists. His lawyer said there was no evidence of a crime he had committed. However, the Iranian judiciary denied the allegations of torture.
Afkari and his brothers worked as construction workers in Shiraz, 680 km (420 miles) south of the capital, Tehran.
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A provincial court in Shiraz sentenced Afkari’s brothers Wahid Afkari and Habib Afkari to 54 and 27 years in prison, respectively, in connection with the murder.
Al Jazeera Asset Pack reports from Tehran Two different descriptions of murder.
“We hear that Naveed Afkari was arrested in connection with the 2018 protests outside Iran and the alleged killing of a security official. This is very different from within Iran. And that murder took place on 23 July 2018.
“Naveed Afkari was arrested by police a few days later after being identified using CCTV footage. According to the judiciary, his arrest and sentencing had nothing to do with the protests,” Bagh said.
Afkari’s sentence sparked a social media campaign that portrayed him and his brothers as victims who were targeted for participating in the 2018 protests. On Tuesday, a global union representing 85,000 athletes called for Iran to be expelled from the world game if it executed Afkari.
US President Donald Trump also expressed his own concerns.
“As far as the leaders of Iran are concerned, I really appreciate it if you can save the life of this young man and not execute him,” Trump tweeted earlier this month. “Thanks!”
Iran responded to Trump’s tweet by directing an 11 – minute state television broadcast in Afkari, which included Turkman’s weeping parents.
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The broadcast featured scenes of Afkari on a motorcycle, who said he stabbed Turkmen in the back, not explaining why he carried out the attack.
The state television unit also showed vague police documents and, without elaborating, described the murder as a “personal dispute.”
Afkari’s mobile phone was found at the scene, and surveillance footage showed him walking down a street and talking on his phone.
Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency dismissed Trump’s tweet in a feature story, saying US sanctions had hit Iranian hospitals amid the epidemic.
“Trump worries about the life of a murderer while imposing severe sanctions and endangering the lives of many Iranian patients,” the agency said.
Pei notedTate TV conducted an interview with Hassan Turkman’s parents in which they said their son had been murdered and that they had a right to revenge.
They added, “The foreign media didn’t even bother to talk to them when their son was killed, and he left three children. So there are two different stories,” Pack said.