Young Wrestler In Iran Might Have Died Of Torture In Jail, Not Execution
Eyewitnesses have told Iran International that a 27-year old wrestling champion arrested during anti-government protests, might have died under torture and not executed in prison, as Iran's government announced on Saturday.
Eyewitnesses say there were signs of beatings on Navid Afkari’s face before burial, and his broken nose was clearly visible. According to the witnesses, Afkari’s family was allowed to see only Navid’s face before burial and not his body.
A source close to Afkari’s family said Navid had identified his main torturer after receiving the beatings.
After the news of Navid Afkari’s death was announced on Saturday morning, his body was buried Saturday night under heavy security.
Three weeks before his death, Afkari released a letter and an audio file from prison revealing that he was heavily tortured to confess to the murder of a government security guard. His brother Vahid also revealed details about the arrest of their other brother, father, and brother in law, and threats of arresting their mother and sister.
In these audio files, Navid Afkari said: When my solitary and underground tortures ended and I arrived in prison, I wrote letters to different judicial authorities and complained and shouted that I am not a murderer, and I demanded to be taken to a medical examiner.”
“The medical examiner and eyewitnesses proved that I was tortured, but no matter how many letters I wrote saying that my confession was under torture and there is not a single evidence or document in this damn case that points at our guilt, they didn’t want to hear it. I realized they were looking for a neck for their noose.”
The release of the audio and letter caused a massive uproar nationally and globally, and as a result, security forces transferred the three brothers to the disciplinary ward of Adel Abad prison in Shiraz.
Three days after the transfer, the Islamic Republic’s state-TV broadcasted the forced confessions of Navid Afkari, which led to a huge backlash on Twitter and other social media. The hashtags in support of Afkari brothers became the number one trending Iranian hashtags.
After several days without any information on the brothers, there were fresh reports of beatings, and after their family waited in front of the prison for two days, they received a quick call from Navid Afkari, telling them he is being held with his brothers and they have been severely beaten and must be transferred to the medical care but the prison refuses to deliver their complaint.
In a letter to Ibrahim Raeesi, the chief of judiciary, the parents of Navid Afkari confirmed their son’s torture and asked for medical examination of their sons.
The judiciary however, claimed that after an examination by a team of three doctors, “no sign indicating torture has been found.”
On Friday night, political activist Mehdi Mahmoudian reported that Afkari brothers have contacted their families and told them that they have been examined by the doctors in the presence of the chief of the judiciary of Fars province and their signs of tortures have been documented.
A few hours later the chief of the judiciary of Fars province announced that Navid Afkari has been executed.
Navid Afkari’s attorney Hassan Younesi tweeted on Saturday: “According to the law, the convict has a right to meet with his family before execution. Were you in such a rush to execute him that you denied Navid his last visitation?”
If Afkari died under torture, this can explain why the authorities did not allow the family to see his body or have a final meeting with him, as prescribed by law.
Human rights and athletic organizations, foreign governments and thousands of Iranians have expressed outrage over Afkari's death.