US sanctions Iranian judges, prisons over wrestler’s execution
A woman holds a portrait of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari during a demonstration on the Dam Square in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on September 13, 2020, against its execution in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz and against the Iranian government. Iran said it executed wrestler Navid Afkari, 27, on September 12, 2020 at a prison in the southern city of Shiraz over the murder of a public sector worker during anti-government protests in August 2018. Reports published abroad say Afkari was condemned on the basis of confessions extracted under torture, prompting online campaigns of support for his release. – Netherlands OUT
/ AFP / ANP / Evert Elzinga

The United States has sanctioned several Iranian officials and entities for alleged gross human rights violations, including the recent execution of an athlete.

Navid Afkari, a 27-year-old wrestler accused of murdering a security guard, was executed on Sept. 12 in spite of international appeals for him to be spared.

U.S. Secretary of State, Mr Michael Pompeo, announced the sanctions in a statement on Thursday.

Those affected include two judges identified as Seyyed Sadati and Mohammad Soltani, Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz, and the Vakilabad Prisons.

Pompeo alleged that they were responsible for “torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary detentions”.

He also accused them of denying the “right to liberty of those seeking only to practice their faith, peacefully assemble, or to express themselves”.

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Citing unspecified reports, he said Sadati and Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court were involved in the “appalling case” of the executed wrestler.

Afkari was accused of murdering a security guard during a wave of anti-government protests in 2018.

Pompeo alleged that the trial of the late athlete was “rushed and grossly unfair” under Sadati of Branch 1 of the Shiraz Revolutionary Court.

“Prior to his execution, which was done in secret, Navid Afkari was reported being tortured by Iranian officials at Adelabad Prison.

“His confession, which he later stated was provided under duress, was aired on Iran’s state television.

“The United States joins with nations around the world in mourning Navid’s execution and condemning the Iranian regime.

“His killing was an unconscionable act. The U.S. calls upon all nations to promote accountability for this regime by imposing sanctions like the ones announced today,” he said.

The Secretary of State said Soltani was also sanctioned alongside the Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad and Orumiyeh Prison in Orumiyeh City for religious rights violations.

He accused Soltani of sentencing Baha’is in Iran on “dubious charges related to their exercise of freedom of expression or belief”.

“Vakilabad Prison, which is where the wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Michael White was held, has also arbitrarily detained trade union activist and teacher Mohammad Hossein Sepehri for simply exercising his human rights.

“Orumiyeh Prison has subjected members of ethnic and religious minority groups and political prisoners to abuse, including beatings and floggings.

“The actions taken today by the United States expose Iran’s Revolutionary courts and their judges for what they really are: tools designed to enforce the Iranian regime’s brutal ideology and suppress dissent.

“They do not fairly administer justice, but rather seek to deprive the Iranian people of due process as well as their human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Pompeo added.


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