The Iranian authorities have confirmed that Shahin Naseri, an inmate of Greater Tehran Penitentiary who witnessed the torture in custody of Shirazi wrestler Navid Afkari, has died in prison in as-yet unexplained circumstances.

Naseri had filed a signed statement with the judiciary about the case in October 2019. In it, he said that when he was brought into Shiraz police station in late September 2018, shortly after Afkari and his brothers had also been arrested, he saw Navid being beaten by two plain-clothes officers with a metal bar and a baton.

He added that officers had been cursing Navid and telling him to confess to the killing of a security guard in August 2018: the alleged crime that provided the eventual pretext for his execution.

News that Naseri had been found dead in jail first surfaced on Tuesday. On Thursday, the General Directorate of Prisons in Tehran issued a statement confirming the death. 

It added: "The convict, Shahin Naseri, who was serving a sentence for crimes such as fraud, theft, forgery and use of a forged document, was referred to the prison medical service and his treatment was carried out by a physician specialized in emergency medicine."

Doctors had reportedly tried to resuscitate Naseri, using a combination of artificial respiration, an ephinephrine injection and an IV drip, for 45 minutes before he was pronounced dead. The exact cause of death, the Prisons Directorate said, was “under investigation” by the Legal Medicine Organization.

Shahin Naseri had made other disclosures about the security agencies’ treatment of the Afkari brothers while behind bars. In an audio file shared on social media in August 2020, he said the Medical Examiner’s Office had investigated marks on Afkari’s body and confirmed he had been tortured.

In another audio file sent to IranWire in September that year, he confirmed again what he had witnessed at the police station. His evidence – both written and oral – was submitted to a total of three courts, none of which paid it any heed in their final judgments on the Afkari case.

Before his death, Navid Afkari himself had said he had been tortured into giving a false confession. After Naseri testified to the same, he said he was threatened by the judge and told he “was interfering in a security case” in a manner he would live to regret.

On Wednesday, Iran Human Rights reported that according to his brother and fellow inmates, Naseri had been transferred to solitary confinement before his death, which would have prevented him from making phone calls.

Sources inside the prison also said to their knowledge, Naseri had not suffered from any mental health issues and would not have taken his own life. “He had a wife and children,” one said, “and was hopeful for the future.”

Navid Afkari and his two brothers were arrested after attending an anti-government protest in summer 2018. They were charged with the murder of a security guard and despite an international campaign for his release, Navid was executed on September 12, 2020. His brothers Vahid and Habib, who also endured heavy torture, are still being held in solitary confinement in Adelabad Prison, Shiraz.

Related coverage:

Navid Afkari: “A Voice that Shook the World”

Jailed Afkari Brother Sentenced to Additional Two Years' Exile

Fears Mounting Over Fate of Navid Afkari's Two Imprisoned Brothers

Family Kept in the Dark as Navid Afkari's Brother Releases Shock Testimony from Prison

Judiciary Statement on Afkari's Execution Riddled with Legal Issues

Navid Afkari’s Lawyer Still Has No Access to His Files

Three Imprisoned Brothers Beaten and Denied Medical Help

Shockwaves in Iran Over Sudden Execution of Navid Afkari

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