Iran ignores plea from Donald Trump to spare wrestler, 27, and executes him over murder of state worker during anti-government protests

Iran has executed a young wrestler despite an international campaign to spare him the death penalty - including a plea from Donald Trump.
Navid Afkari, 27, was executed in the southern city of Shiraz on Saturday, Iranian state television announced.
Iran claimed Afkari was guilty of the murder of Hossein Torkman, a water department worker who was stabbed to death during protests in the country in August 2018.
Tehran broadcast an 11-minute confession by Afkari last week, but through his own social media channels, the wrestler had continued to protest his innocence.
Campaigners argued he was being framed for the murder by the regime, who were eager to silence one of their critics.   
Iranian state TV has aired an apparent confession by wrestler Navid Afkari (pictured), who today was executed after having been charged with a 2018 murder
Iranian state TV has aired an apparent confession by wrestler Navid Afkari (pictured), who today was executed after having been charged with a 2018 murder
Navid Afkar's final message speaking about his innocence
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In a final message from Afkari that has been shared on social media following the announcement of his execution, the wrestler maintained his innocence.
'I’ve exhausted all resorts to the justice system of the Islamic Republic. They’ve rejected my requests for a retrial,' he says in the audio clip. 'This means, after two years, the judiciary has decided to execute me.
'The Islamic Republic of Iran is about to execute an innocent person like me. They’ve shut down my voice and they’re now about to take my life. 
'I’m asking every freedom-loving person from any ideology be my voice and that of my family because human’s honour without the right to justice has no meaning.
'I’ve all kinds of documents to prove my innocence. With these documents, if ever I’m executed, people should know that in the 21st century, with all this talk of human rights by the United Nations in the world, they still executed innocent people in Iran.'
US President Trump had said last week: 'Hearing that Iran is looking to execute a great and popular wrestling star, 27-year-old Navid Afkarai, whose 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 tweeted, tagging a Fox News story on the wrestler and the UFC mixed martial arts organization and its president Dana White.

US President Donald Trump pleaded with Iranian authorities to reconsider the 'great and popular wrestling star's' death sentence in a set of tweets on Friday (pictured)
US President Donald Trump pleaded with Iranian authorities to reconsider the 'great and popular wrestling star's' death sentence in a set of tweets on Friday (pictured)
On Saturday, Iran responded to Trump's tweet with a nearly 11-minute state TV package on Afkari. 
It included the weeping parents of the slain water company employee, Hassan Torkaman.  
The package also showed footage of Afkari on the back of a motorbike, claiming he had stabbed Torkaman in the back without explaining why he allegedly carried out the assault.
The state TV segment showed blurred police documents and described the killing as a 'personal dispute,' without elaborating. 
It also said Afkari's cellphone had been in the area and showed surveillance footage of him walking down a street, talking on his phone. 
Those supporting Afkari have accused police of torturing a confession out of him after finding the surveillance footage. 
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.
Navid (left) and his brother Vahid (right) were sentenced by Iran's supreme court along with a third brother, Habib
Navid (left) and his brother Vahid (right) were sentenced by Iran's supreme court along with a third brother, Habib
Reports published abroad say Afkari was condemned on the basis of confessions aired on television after being extracted under torture, prompting online campaigns of support for his release.
Iranian opposition leader, Maryam Rajavi, who is based in Paris, reacted to the news.
'The religious dictatorship ruling Iran cannot survive for even one day without suppression, execution, and torture,' she said in a statement.
'The United Nations Security Council, its member states, the UN Human Rights Council and High Commissioner for Human Rights, the EU and all international human rights organizations must undertake effective and concrete measures against the Iranian regime for the execution of Navid Afkari and 120,000 political prisoners. 
'Silence and inaction are tantamount to a green light to, and complicity with, the regime to continues its atrocities.'
London-based rights group Amnesty International has repeatedly called on Iran to stop broadcasting videos of 'confessions' by suspects, saying they 'violate the defendants' rights'.
An Iranian opposition group quoted their mother Bahieh Namjou (pictured) as saying the brothers had been arrested by plain-clothes officers without a warrant
An Iranian opposition group quoted their mother Bahieh Namjou (pictured) as saying the brothers had been arrested by plain-clothes officers without a warrant
Players' union condemns execution of Iranian wrestler
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The judiciary's Mizan Online news agency denied the accusations.
According to Amnesty, Afkari's last contact with his family was a short phone call on September 6.
His two brothers Vahid and Habib are still detained at the same prison as him, the group said in a statement.
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.'
'Were you in such a hurry to carry out the sentence that you deprived Navid of his last visit?' 
US President Donald Trump had pleaded for Afkari's life earlier this month, saying his 'sole act was an anti-government demonstration on the streets'. 
Trump has imposed crushing sanctions on Iran after unilaterally withdrawing the United States from the nuclear deal that Tehran struck with world powers
Dana White, the president of the mixed martial arts competition UFC, has also called on Iran to drop the death sentence against the wrestler
Dana White, the president of the mixed martial arts competition UFC, has also called on Iran to drop the death sentence against the wrestler
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.
A global union representing 85,000 athletes had also called on Iran to spare the wrestler's life.
In a statement issued Tuesday on its website, World Players United called on the International Olympic Committee to use its leverage to help Afkari.
The Persian hashtagh #Navid-Afkari was also being widely used on Twitter to protest the execution.
BERLIN: A supporter of the National Council of Resistance Iran (NWRI) and the Iranian Exile Society in Berlin holds a placard with the picture of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari outside the Iranian embassy in Berlin, while protesting against his execution
BERLIN: A supporter of the National Council of Resistance Iran (NWRI) and the Iranian Exile Society in Berlin holds a placard with the picture of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari outside the Iranian embassy in Berlin, while protesting against his execution
LONDON: Protesters wave the Lion and Sun flag of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and the white flag of the People's Mujahedin of Iran, two Iranian opposition groups, outside the Iranian embassy in London, protesting the execution of Navid Afkari
LONDON: Protesters wave the Lion and Sun flag of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and the white flag of the People's Mujahedin of Iran, two Iranian opposition groups, outside the Iranian embassy in London, protesting the execution of Navid Afkari
Iranian rights activist Emaddein Baghi tweeted that Afkari's execution was a 'great sin' as the judiciary should have tried to persuade the murdered man's family to forgive the wrestler.
Lawyer Babak Paknia also criticised the judiciary for its 'haste' to carry out the sentence.
'Even if a murder had really ocurred, is it not the judicial system's procedure to do all that is possible to receive forgiveness?' he tweeted.
Paknia represents three men sentenced to death over links to similar protests in November, but the trio's execution was halted over a request to the supreme court to review the verdict.
Amnesty said Iran executed at least 251 people last year, the world's second highest toll after China. 
Iran ignores plea from Donald Trump to spare wrestler, 27, and executes him over murder of state worker during anti-government protests Iran ignores plea from Donald Trump to spare wrestler, 27, and executes him over murder of state worker during anti-government protests Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 04:17 Rating: 5

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