Supreme Court confirmed that Navid Akfari would receive two death sentences, six and a half years in jail and 74 lashes, according to Persian-language broadcaster Iran International. (Social media) Navid Akfari and his two brothers allegedly participated in protests

Lawyer: Confessions non-admissible in court because they were extracted using torture

LONDON: An Iranian wrestling champion has been sentenced to death for his role in anti-regime protests in 2018.

The Supreme Court confirmed that Navid Akfari would receive two death sentences, six and a half years in jail and 74 lashes, according to Persian-language broadcaster Iran International.

Saqeb Saba, editor of Iran International, told Arab News that Akfari’s brothers Vahid and Habib were spared the death penalty but received prison sentences of 54 and 27 years respectively, as well as 74 lashes each.

The siblings allegedly participated in protests in 2018 that were triggered by the deteriorating economic situation in the country but morphed into an anti-regime movement.

The judiciary charged the brothers with 20 different crimes, including “attending illegal gatherings, assembly and conspiracy to commit crimes against national security, and insulting the supreme leader.”

Akfari’s case “is really, really upsetting for everybody,” Saba said. “He was a national hero, and we don’t even know the circumstances of his participation in the demonstrations.”

Saba said Akfari was tortured into making false confessions against his brothers, and their lawyer has since said their confessions have no value in any court because of this.

Saba said the regime violently suppresses anyone who expresses dissatisfaction with it, even those who do so peacefully.

“The worst thing Akfari could’ve done was sympathizing with his friends’, family’s and compatriots’ economic situations, but the way the regime has responded to these demonstrations is horrible — pure brutality,” Saba added.

“This is the action of a regime that’s frightened. The only way it can deal with a situation like this is brute force.”

Iran is notorious for its extensive use of the death penalty, particularly against protestors and political detainees.

According to rights group Amnesty International, Iran is behind only China in executions carried out per year, and killed at least 251 people in 2019 alone.

Many of those executions are carried out publicly, and much like in the case of the Akfari brothers, defendants are regularly subject to “systematic violations of fair trial rights,” Amnesty said. Middle-East Middle-East