- Afkari brothers accused of killing guard.
- They were among 7,000 anti-government protesters that were voicing their demurral on the worsening economic situation in Iran.
- Recording show he and his brothers were coerced into confessing to the crimes.
US President Donald Trump has asked Iran to spare the life of Iranian pro-wrestler Navid Afkari. He has been handed two life sentences while his two brothers Vahid and Habib, who were prosecuted alongside him, face 54 and 27-year jail sentences respectively.
He and his two brothers are accused of killing a security guard at a water facility during a protest in 2018. They were among a group of anti-government protesters that were voicing their demurral on the worsening economic situation in Iran. The nationwide crackdown that ensued led to the incarceration of over 7,000 people, including children.
Prosecutors say that Afkari and his brothers confessed to the crimes. Separate evidence, including audio recordings, however, reveal that he and his brothers were coerced into confessing to the crimes.
UFC President Dana White has revealed that he called US President Donald Trump, who is a close friend, to intervene in the matter. The president has subsequently posted a tweet asking Iran to spare Afkari’s life that reads in part as follows.
“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. They were protesting the country’s worsening economic situation and inflation…
…To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man’s life, and not execute him. Thank you!”
Dana White has underlined that the wrestler was arrested for no other reason other than protesting.
Former US Intelligence Official Asks Olympics Organizers To Intervene
Former US Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell had also asked Olympics organizers to push for the release of Navid Afkari.
The request was issued earlier this week following a leaked audio of Navid complaining about injuries sustained due to torture, and the unfair Iranian justice system.
“The evidence is there if the court wants to investigate [the acts of torture] … 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 they are looking for a neck for their rope,” he said.
Forced To Confess
Amnesty International has in the recent past accused Iranian authorities of torturing innocent people. According to the human rights organization, hundreds of Iranians have been incarcerated since the crackdown on protests last year.
Investigations by Amnesty International on the Iranian situation have revealed systemic torture and serious human rights violations have been committed by Iranian authorities.
Some of those incarcerated, especially well-known activists, have been tortured into confessing involvement in protests, and to being members of the country’s opposition parties.
The Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran (ABC) human rights organization has additionally said that the current prison conditions in Iran are dire. It has accused the leadership of covering up this fact.