Iranian wrestler executed by regime exonerated again by new witness

“My sources also name Moslem Rahimi, a supermarket owner, who witnessed the murder, who has stated Afkari was not the killer.”

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.
(photo credit: EVERT ELZINGA/ANP/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
The British-Iranian investigative journalist Potkin Azarmehr revealed on Wednesday that a new witness has provided additional evidence to the widespread view that Iran’s regime murdered the innocent champion wrestler Navid Afkari for a crime he did not commit.
Human rights groups and sports organizations accused Iran’s regime of framing Afkari for the killing.
“My sources also name Moslem Rahimi, a supermarket owner, who witnessed the murder, who has stated Afkari was not the killer,” Azarmehr wrote on the website of The Investigative Project on Terrorism in a highly detailed account of Afkari’s case.
The supermarket owner is another piece of exculpatory evidence in a long list of documentation that has established Afkari’s innocence. The world-class wrestler was arrested in 2018 for participating in nationwide protests against regime corruption.
Afkari, wrote Azarmehr, explicitly denied during his trial to having murdered Hassan Torkaman, a regime security informant, and “challenged the judge to produce the CCTV footage. The judge, Mehrdad Tahemtan, simply replied ‘I don't need to.'"
Azarmehr is known to have solid sources across the Islamic Republic of Iran for his groundbreaking reports over the years.
“Navid's torturers wanted him to confess to killing Hassan Torkaman and implicate his brothers. One of Navid's two brothers twice tried to kill himself because he found the tortures so unbearable,” wrote Azarmehr.
Afkari has become a cause célèbre because Iran’s regime summarily executed the Greco-Roman champion wrestler on September 12 without any semblance of a fair trial or due process protections, according to human rights organizations and legal experts.
Azarmehr wrote that “Afkari's execution generated global condemnation after his sentence sparked an international campaign to save him, but in the end, he was brutally tortured and arbitrarily executed to send a message to the millions of Iranian dissidents within Iran.”
He continued that “Iran denied that Afkari's death sentence was for participating in the protests. Rather, it claimed the champion wrestler murdered a regime security agent, Hassan Torkaman, who took part in the crackdown on protesters in Shiraz, in August 2018.
"When a regime security agent is killed, the case cannot remain unresolved. A scapegoat must be found and what better than to blame a protester? Navid was chosen to be that scapegoat.”

AZARMEHR'S REPORT contains previously unreported biographical information on the executed 27-year-old wrestler. “Afkari's family however, like the vast majority of Iranians, never got a share of what the revolution promised. Navid spent his childhood selling chewing gum and balloons on the streets to help the family make ends meet and had to leave school in his teens.”
According to the report, Afkari “developed a love for wrestling. He entered his first tournament at age 14, placing second nationally. His wrestling accolades continued when he was conscripted in the armed forces, and he won the bronze medal in the Armed Forces Greco-Roman wrestling tournament. After his service ended, he worked as a plasterer while wrestling when he could.”
Azarmehr noted that Afkari has become a figure of domestic significance with Iran. “Navid however, became a national hero. For those Iranians, the Islamic Republic's noose around Navid's neck was a gold medal for courage in the struggle against a tyrannical regime that has suppressed the Iranian people's talents and aspirations in the last four decades," he wrote.
He continued that "There was an outpouring of sorrow and condemnation by many Iranians. Government repression has so far prevented mass demonstrations for Navid and his brothers, but the pent-up anger has been manifested in other ways. Posters and graffiti declaring him as a national hero adorned many walls across Iran, and thousands used Navid's picture for their social media profiles.”
Azarmehr ended his article by saying: “It now remains to be seen whether the international bodies and governments will let the Islamic Republic get away with Navid's unjust execution.”
He concluded that "If they refuse to speak out, they will only further embolden this rogue regime to carry out even more arbitrary executions of its political opponents.”