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

October 5, 2020
IranWire Citizen Journalist
3 min read
Fears Mounting Over Fate of Navid Afkari's Two Imprisoned Brothers

In the aftermath of the shock execution of Navid Afkari judicial authorities are staying tight-lipped about the whereabouts and status of the Iranian wrestler’s two brothers. Vahid Afkari and Habib Afkari were arrested on attending the same protest as Navid in 2018. Now, they are being deprived of so much as the right to make a phone call.

A source close to the devastated Afkari family said it had been more than 16 days since they had any news of the brothers. The information they had received prior to this was contradictory in places, exacerbating their worries. The family understand Vahid and Habib are in solitary confinement, and have now recovered after recently being beaten by a prison guard.

The Afkari brothers were arrested after attending a demonstration in Tehran in August 2018. The three were forced, under torture, to give forced confessions implicating them in the killing of a security officer. In the show trial that followed, Navid Afkari, 27, was sentenced to death and abruptly executed in the early hours of Monday, September 12 despite international pressure on Iran to commute the sentence. Vahid and Habib Afkari remain in custody and face sentences of 54 years and six months, and 27 years and three months, respectively as well as 74 lashes.

The source told IranWire: “Judiciary and prison officials are misleading the family. The prison officials say it’s out of their hands; they say they have orders from higher up not to transfer them [Habib and Vahid] to public wards and to keep them in solitary confinement.

“The brothers do not have the right to visitation or a phone call, and on going to the deputy prosecutor supervising the prison, they were told they were not allowed to talk to their family."

The Afkari family tried to engage with the authorities last week but were told they had to follow up with the courts and the sentencing judge. When they did so, they received no reply.

Navid’s execution came about suddenly and without any warning to either his family or his lawyer. He was not able to contact his family before he was hanged, a right enshrined in Iran’s penal code. The family are now terrified that judicial opacity over Habib and Vahid’s treatment means something bad is in store for them too, and they will be the last to find out.

Last week, the Center for Human Rights in Iran also reported that a fellow prisoner of Navid Afkari and a witness to his torture, a man named Shahin Naseri, was being held incommunicado at a police security unit in Shiraz. Naseri was serving time for fraud and had not committed any new offence before being ‘disappeared’ last week. In October 2019, he had filed a signed statement with the judiciary in which he said that back in September 2018, he had seen Navid Afkari being severely beaten by two plain-clothed officers with a metal bar and a baton, cursing him and ordering him to confess to killing the security guard in 2018. The family fears that Naseri is now being coerced into retracting his statement.

Navid Afkari never accepted his death sentence and continued to assert in court that his confession had been extracted from him under torture. In the aftermath of his death protests took place outside the court where he had been sentenced, and the execution was condemned by bodies around the world including the European Union, human rights organizations, the International Olympic Committee and United World Wrestling.

 

Related coverage:

Three Imprisoned Brothers Beaten and Denied Medical Help

Shockwaves in Iran Over Sudden Execution of Navid Afkari

Afkari’s Execution Will Leave Iranian Athletes Out in the Cold

Judiciary Statement on Afkari's Execution Riddled with Legal Issues

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