An Iranian wrestling champion sentenced to death for participating in anti-regime protests in 2018.
According to Persian broadcaster Iran International, the Iranian Supreme Court upheld two death sentences for Navid Afkari along with six years and six months in prison and 74 lashes.
His brother, Vahid Afkari, was sentenced to 54 years in prison, while a third brother, Habib, received 27 years and both will receive 74 lashes.
The Iranian judiciary accused the brothers of 20 different crimes, including “participation in illegal meetings, assemblies and conspiracy to commit crimes against national security and insult the supreme leader”.
A source close to the brothers said Navid, a wrestling champion with no criminal record, and his brothers had joined the protests “so the judiciary considered the three brothers’ participation as organizing a group.”
It is not clear why two death sentences were imposed on the same person.
Iran International reported that Navid and Vahid Afkari were severely tortured to confess.
The US government has made similar claims, claiming that “Khamenei’s thugs tortured Navid to the point that he confessed to false crimes.”
“Those who were not satisfied with trampling Navid’s human dignity have now sentenced him to death,” reads a statement in Persian.
The court even heard testimony from witnesses who described the beatings and torture, it is claimed, but the judges ignored it.
An Iranian opposition group sued the mother, Bahieh Namjou, who said the brothers had been arrested by plainclothes officers without a warrant.
British-Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi pleaded with Iran not to execute the brothers, saying, “Champion fighter Navid Afkari was sentenced to death for participating in anti-government protests in Iran.
🇮🇷 The Islamic Republic of Iran just confirmed the death sentence of wrestling champion Navid Afkari for participating in 2018 protests against the regime.
🇮🇷 The Islamic Republic of Iran is an elected member of the U.N. Commission on Criminal Justice.
— UN Watch (@UNWatch) August 29, 2020
Those close to him said he was subjected to a forced confession under torture. Stop the executions in Iran ”.
According to Amnesty International, Iran is already the second most prolific user of the death penalty after China, with at least 251 executions in 2019.
Amnesty International said some people were executed in public, while many of the convicts were under 18 at the time of the alleged crime.
The human rights charity also said there have been “systematic violations of the rights to a fair trial” in Iran.
Last month, the Iranian judiciary halted the executions of three young men convicted in connection with the anti-government mass protests in November.
The # Don’tExecute campaign erupted after three men, Amirhossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi, were sentenced to death on charges of participating in arson and vandalism during the 2019 protests.
Sadeq Saba, director of Iran International, said: “The Islamic Republic has witnessed many protest movements over the years, the latest in mid-November due to the increase in the price of gasoline.
“The security forces brutally killed hundreds of people and arrested thousands more. These movements have become more radical, more frequent and have spread throughout Iran. “
He added: “In response to internal and external pressures, the regime has adopted a bunker mentality, evolving into a centralized authoritarian theocratic state presided over by an omnipotent supreme leader with no respect for constitutionalism.”
Many of the recent protests have been triggered by economic hardship in a country where many people have struggled to make ends meet due to US sanctions.
More protests erupted last year after the announcement that gasoline prices would rise by up to 200%.
The US drone attack that killed Iranian senior general Qassem Soleimani in January 2020 initially unleashed a torrent of pain and nationalism in Iran.
But public anger turned against the regime after the Revolutionary Guards shot down an airliner with dozens of Iranians on board.
The stalemate with the United States eventually eased and political tensions were soon replaced by the coronavirus crisis in which Iran was a prime entry point.