EU condemns execution of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari

Iran said it executed wrestler Navid Afkari, 27, on Sept. 12, 2020 at a prison in the southern city of Shiraz over the murder of a public sector worker during anti-government protests in Aug. 2018. (File/AFP)
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Updated 14 September 2020

EU condemns execution of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari

  • Iranian state media reported Afkari’s execution on Saturday
  • Afkari, a champion Greco-Roman wrestler, had been convicted of stabbing a security guard to death during anti-government protests in 2018

BRUSSELS: The European Union on Monday added its voice to an international outcry over the execution of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari, saying the death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment which the EU opposes in all cases.
Iranian state media reported Afkari’s execution on Saturday. Afkari, a champion Greco-Roman wrestler, had been convicted of stabbing a security guard to death during anti-government protests in 2018.
Afkari’s family has maintained that his conviction depended on a confession that was extracted through torture, which Afkari later recanted. The Iranian judiciary rejected his appeals.
“The European Union is opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances and cases with no exception,” a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.
“Human rights remain a central feature of our engagement with Iran. We will continue to engage with Iranian authorities on this issue including through the local EU representation in Teheran and also on individual cases such as this recent execution,” he said.
The United States, which unlike the EU practices the death penalty, has also condemned Afkari’s execution. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called it “an outrageous assault on human dignity, even by the despicable standards of this regime.”


American sued in Thailand over negative Tripadviser review

Updated 26 September 2020

American sued in Thailand over negative Tripadviser review

  • ‘We chose to file a complaint to serve as a deterrent, as we understood he may continue to write negative reviews week after week for the foreseeable future’

BANGKOK: An American has been sued by an island resort in Thailand over a negative TripAdviser review, authorities said Saturday, and could face up to two years in prison if found guilty.
Domestic tourism is still happening in Thailand, where coronavirus numbers are relatively low, with locals and expats heading to near-empty resorts — including Koh Chang island, famed for its sandy beaches and turquoise waters.
But a recent visit to the Sea View Resort on the island landed Wesley Barnes in trouble after he wrote unflattering online reviews about his holiday.
“The Sea View Resort owner filed a complaint that the defendant had posted unfair reviews on his hotel on the Tripadviser website,” Col. Thanapon Taemsara of Koh Chang police said.
He said Barnes was accused of causing “damage to the reputation of the hotel,” and of quarrelling with staff over not paying a corkage fee for alcohol brought to the hotel.
Barnes, who works in Thailand, was arrested by immigration police and returned to Koh Chang where he was briefly detained and then freed on bail.
According to the Tripadviser review Barnes posted in July, he encountered “unfriendly staff” who “act like they don’t want anyone here.”
The Sea View Resort said legal action was only taken because Barnes had penned multiple reviews on different sites over the past few weeks.
At least one was posted in June on Tripadviser accusing the hotel of “modern day slavery” — which the site removed after a week for violating its guidelines.
“We chose to file a complaint to serve as a deterrent, as we understood he may continue to write negative reviews week after week for the foreseeable future,” the hotel said, adding that staff had attempted to contact Barnes before filing the complaint.
Barnes did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Thailand’s notorious anti-defamation laws have long drawn scrutiny from human rights and press freedom groups, who say powerful players use it as a weapon to stifle free expression.
The maximum sentence is two years in prison, along with a 200,000 baht ($6,300) fine.
Earlier this year, a Thai journalist was sentenced to two years in prison for posting a tweet referencing a dispute over working conditions at a chicken farm owned by the Thammakaset company.