US sanctions Iran judge who ordered wrestling champ’s execution

The United States has imposed sanctions on the Iranian judge who sentenced a wrestling champion to death over his role in anti-government protests in 2018. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally announced the sanctions against Judge Sayyed Mahmoud Sadati in a statement on September 24. He referred to the killin…

By: Karim Zidan | 3 years
US sanctions Iran judge who ordered wrestling champ’s execution
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

The United States has imposed sanctions on the Iranian judge who sentenced a wrestling champion to death over his role in anti-government protests in 2018.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally announced the sanctions against Judge Sayyed Mahmoud Sadati in a statement on September 24. He referred to the killing as an “unconscionable act” before calling on nations to “promote accountability for this regime.”

“Navid had previously competed in Iran’s National Wrestling Championship and he had so much more to accomplish in life,” Sec. Pompeo said in a statement. “Too often, the Iranian regime targets, arrests, and kills the brightest and most promising Iranians, thereby depriving Iran of its greatest asset – the skill and talent of its own people. Navid’s death must not be in vain: peace-loving nations should condemn his execution and Iran’s egregious human rights violations, and reaffirm respect for the freedom, dignity, and equality of every person.”

Afkari, 27, was executed in September after being sentenced to death for his alleged role in killing a security officer in Shiraz, Fars Province during summer 2018 protests in the province. However, according to Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), there is evidence that he did not commit the alleged crime and that he was tortured during interrogation into giving a false “confession.”

The Iranian authorities are increasingly using death sentences to terrorize the population into remaining silent and end any further participation in peaceful protests,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the CHRI.

Afkari filed a complaint with the Iranian judiciary in September 2019 where he claimed that his confession was extracted through torture. Iran’s judiciary has denied the torture claims and instead opted to rebroadcast Afkari’s confession on state TV after President Trump took to social media to address Iran’s leadership.

Reports also suggest that Afkari was denied a family visit before the execution, despite it being required by law.

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About the author
Karim Zidan
Karim Zidan

Karim Zidan is a investigative reporter and feature writer focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. He has written for BloodyElbow since 2014 and has served as an associate editor since 2016. He also writes for The New York Times and The Guardian. Karim has been invited to speak about his work at numerous universities, including Princeton, and was a panelist at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival and the Oslo Freedom Forum. He also participated in the United Nations counter-terrorism conference in 2021. His reporting on Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in MMA, much of which was done for Bloody Elbow, has led to numerous award nominations, and was the basis of an award-winning HBO Real Sports documentary.

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