EU condemns Iran wrestler execution ‘in strongest terms’

A man holds a portrait of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari during a demonstration on the Dam Square in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on September 13, 2020, against its execution in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz and against the Iranian government. (AFP)
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Updated 15 September 2020

EU condemns Iran wrestler execution ‘in strongest terms’

  • Shiraz and several other urban centers across Iran had been the scene that day of anti-government protests and demonstrations over economic and social hardship

BRUSSELS: The EU on Monday joined the chorus of condemnation Iran’s execution of a wrestler for killing a man during anti-government protests in 2018.
“The European Union condemns this execution in the strongest terms,” an EU foreign affairs spokesperson said in a statement.
The European Union opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances but the execution of 27-year-old Navid Afkari has raised special concern.
“Human rights remain a central feature of our engagement with Iran,” spokesman Peter Stano said.
“We will continue to engage with Iranian authorities on this issue including through the local EU representation in Tehran and also on individual cases such as this recent execution.”
In Berlin, a German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman also condemned the execution.
“There were considerable doubts about the rule of law in the proceedings, and we also take very seriously the allegations that Navid Afkari confessed only under torture,” she said.
Afkari, was executed on Saturday at a prison in Shiraz, having been found guilty of “voluntary homicide” for stabbing to death Hossein Torkman, a water department employee, on Aug. 2, 2018.
Shiraz and several other urban centers across Iran had been the scene that day of anti-government protests and demonstrations over economic and social hardship.
The International Olympic Committee said it was “shocked” by the execution and it was “deeply upsetting” that pleas by athletes around the world and international bodies had failed to halt it.
US President Donald Trump had pleaded for Afkari’s life earlier this month, saying his “sole act was an anti-government demonstration on the streets.”
Brussels often condemns alleged rights abuses in Iran, but has stood by the international nuclear deal with Iran despite US pressure to restore sanctions.
Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia are struggling to save the landmark 2015 accord despite Iran stepping up its nuclear activities since the United States pulled out of the deal in 2018.
Tehran insists it is entitled to do so under the accord — which swapped sanctions relief for Iran’s agreement to scale back its nuclear program — following Washington’s withdrawal.


Iran breaks its record for most new coronavirus cases in one day

Updated 9 min 28 sec ago

Iran breaks its record for most new coronavirus cases in one day

  • Iran, which emerged early on as an epicenter of the virus, has seen its worst wave of deaths from the illness in recent weeks
TEHRAN: Iran on Tuesday reported its highest single-day toll of new coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic with more than 5,000 new infections, as the country struggles to cope with a surge in transmission.
Iran’s health ministry also reported that 322 people had died from the virus, pushing the death toll over 31,000. The new infection count on Tuesday eclipsed the previous high of 4,830 last week, shining a light on the nation’s floundering efforts to combat the virus.
Iran, which emerged early on as an epicenter of the virus, has seen its worst wave of deaths from the illness in recent weeks. Monday’s death toll shattered its previous single-day record, prompting state news outlets to declare it a “black day.”
Hospitals in the hard-hit capital of Tehran are overflowing. Last week, health officials announced that the city had run out of intensive care beds for virus patients.
The increase comes after Iranians packed cafes and restaurants at vacation spots during recent national holidays, and after schools reopened for in-person instruction last month.
The government has resisted a total lockdown because it does not want to further weaken an economy already devastated by unprecedented US sanctions. The Trump administration re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran after withdrawing in 2018 from Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers.
With the death toll skyrocketing, authorities are now starting to impose more restrictions. The government closed museums, libraries, beauty salons, schools and universities in Tehran earlier this month, and imposed a mask mandate outdoors.