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.


Two Turkish troops killed in attack in northern Iraq

Updated 4 min 39 sec ago

Two Turkish troops killed in attack in northern Iraq

  • Turkey has regularly attacked Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants
  • Ankara launched a new ground offensive dubbed Operation Claw-Tiger

ANKARA: Two Turkish soldiers were killed and another was wounded after Kurdish militants fired rockets at a military base in northern Iraq, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Friday.
Turkey has regularly attacked Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, both in its mainly Kurdish southeast and in northern Iraq, where the group is based. In June, Ankara launched a new ground offensive, dubbed Operation Claw-Tiger, that saw Turkish troops advance deeper into Iraq.
The ministry said “harassment fire” by rocket launchers on Thursday killed the two troops at one of Turkey’s bases in neighboring Iraq.
The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict focused in southeast Turkey.
In a separate statement, the Interior Ministry said 71 PKK militants had been killed since July 13 as part of a series of operations within Turkey, dubbed the “Lightning Operations,” and added 38 collaborators had also been captured.