Iranian witness to torture of wrestler Navid Afkari killed

Shahin Naseri said he was an “eyewitness to medieval torture” of the executed wrestler.

A portrait of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari during a demonstration on the Dam Square in Amsterdam, Sept. 13, 2020.  (photo credit: EVERT ELZINGA/ANP/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
A portrait of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari during a demonstration on the Dam Square in Amsterdam, Sept. 13, 2020.

A witness to the sustained torture of champion Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari died under mysterious circumstances in solitary confinement on Tuesday in Greater Tehran Prison, according to his family.

The US government media outlet Radio Farda reported on the death of Shahin Naseri and said it obtained his latest audio message from inside the prison. Naseri said he was an “eyewitness to medieval torture” of Afkari.

He announced his "solidarity" with Navid’s brothers, Vahid and Habib, who are incarcerated, "because of the baseless hatred and baseless accusations against the citizens of Iran and the violation of the most basic citizenship rights" by the Islamic Republic.

Naseri said he was “disgusted” and "demands the revocation of his citizenship of this regime."

He accused regime officials of "grand thefts" and called on the Iranian people to "support" the protests of citizens in Khuzestan, Sistan and Kurdistan, and to "stand up for them."

The Iranian-American human rights expert and activist Lawdan Bazargan told The Jerusalem Post that "the sudden death of Shahin Naseri, a witness to the torture of Navid Afkari, Iranians' beloved champion who was unjustly executed last year, was unexpected but not surprising. The Islamic Republic of Iran [IRI] is a mafia regime that kills and eliminates its opponents and people who do not fall in line with its oppressive measures, to stay in power."

"The shaky pillars of IRI, like any other dictatorship, is established on an unjust court system and a brutal prison apparatus," she said. "Naseri’s death, even if accidental, is the result of an unpopular regime that does anything for its survival. History shows, though, that oppressive regimes are not sustainable and, sooner or later, this regime will collapse, too. I wish the price of freedom and democracy was not this high."

Iranian-Norwegian columnist Mina Bai posted a photo of Naseri on Twitter.

IRAN HUMAN Rights Monitor wrote on its website that Naseri’s brother said “His friends told us that he was killed in solitary confinement. But no official has contacted us yet.”

The human rights group added that a source close to Naseri’s family said that, “a few days ago, coinciding with the first anniversary of the execution of Navid Afkari, he was transferred from the hall where he was held at the Greater Tehran Penitentiary (GTP) to an unknown location. We thought he had been transferred to a security agency because he had been repeatedly threatened by security officials to remain silent about the Afkari brothers’ case, but a few days ago we found out that he was being held in GTP. Shahin Naseri had no underlying illness and his abrupt death is quite suspicious.”

Amnesty International wrote in a late June report that the brothers Vahid and Habib Afkari "are serving lengthy prison terms in Adelabad prison in Shiraz, Fars province, following convictions in multiple grossly unfair trials, in which courts essentially relied on torture-tainted 'confessions."'

Executed Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari (credit: WIKIPEDIA)Executed Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari (credit: WIKIPEDIA)

The two brothers participated in demonstrations against Iranian regime corruption and economic mismanagement in 2018. For their peaceful protests, Iran sentenced Vahid to 54 years and six months imprisonment and Habib to 27 years and three months, as well as 74 lashes each.

The clerical regime executed their brother, champion wrestler Navid Afkari for his protest against the regime's political and economic corruption in 2018, according to human rights experts and Western governments. Iran's regime claims that Navid killed a security guard who was tracking protestors.

The Post reported last year that the Islamic Republic was holding incommunicado a witness to the brutal torture of Afkari before he was killed.

THE NGO Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) reported on its website that Naseri, who witnessed the shocking torture of Afkari, was transferred from prison more than two weeks ago, and was being held in solitary confinement.

Naseri‘s lawyer Babak Paknia told the CHRI  on September 27 that since he was relocated to the police security unit in Shiraz, Fars Province, Naseri has been allowed to make only one short telephone call, to his father-in-law. He did not disclose where he was being held.

According to the center, "in October 2019, Naseri filed a signed statement with the judiciary in which he said when he was brought into the police station in Shiraz in late September 2018 (soon after Afkari’s arrest), he saw Afkari being severely beaten by two plain-clothed men with a metal bar and a baton, cursing and telling him to confess to their version of the murder of a security guard in August 2018.”

Paknia said “the way Naseri has been treated is entirely unlawful.”

According to an audio recording, Naseri said the Medical Examiner’s Office probed the marks on Afkari’s body and confirmed he had been tortured, according to the human rights organization.

“The police said there was no need for me to appear in court to testify [about Afkari being tortured] – the judge will investigate if he feels it’s necessary,’” Naseri said.

“The man standing above Navid said, ‘Whatever I say is the truth,'" the witness said. "I don’t know his name but he had colored eyes with a bright red face and long hair that seemed to be implants. Navid had his hands on his head. The man pounded Navid’s arm four times and cursed at him and said, ‘What I say is what happened.’

“Navid was spread out on the floor with his hands on his head begging them to stop beating him," Naseri said. "When I was brought into the station, I saw Navid’s arm was crushed and inflamed. Navid was saying ‘Sergeant Abbasi broke my arm.’

“I was at the police station for about two months and I witnessed Navid being in pain and discomfort from the broken arm. I saw his hand being struck with my own eyes.”