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Who Sentenced Navid Afkari to Death?

Mehrdad Tahmtan, the head of Branch 1 of the Criminal Court in Iran’s Fars province who sentenced Navid Afkari to two death penalties
Mehrdad Tahmtan, the head of Branch 1 of the Criminal Court in Iran’s Fars province who sentenced Navid Afkari to two death penalties

Mehrdad Tahmtan is the Judge that sentenced Iranian wrestling champion Navid Afkari to double-execution. Moreover, Tahmtan sentenced Navid’s brothers, Vahid and Habib, to 54-and-half years and 27-and-a-quarter years in prison, respectively. These brothers were also sentenced to 74 lashes.

Notably, the Afkari brothers were innocent people and should have been acquitted even under the regime’s ruthless constitution. In his audio messages and letters, Navid frequently affirmed that he had to confess to what he had not committed under severe physical and psychological tortures.

“They pulled a plastic bag over my head and kept it there until I nearly suffocated. They brutally beat my hands, stomach, and feet with batons while using vulgar language and insults. They also tied me and poured alcohol into my nose. Given the excessive torture and psychological and physical pressures, I tried to commit suicide,” Navid wrote.

In an audio message from Adilabad Prison in Shiraz, he reiterated that he is innocent and had never committed any crime. “I wrote letters to judicial officials and said, ‘I’m not a murderer… I asked the forensic check me. The forensic report, eyewitnesses’ testimonies, and evidence proved that I was tortured… But they are looking for a neck to fit their noose,” Navid said.

Furthermore, the case lacked sufficient evidence. For instance, Navid and his brothers were sentenced while another man had previously been condemned and executed due to the death of Hassan Torkaman—the slain in this case. Also, the murder weapon has yet to be found, and according to documents, they never signed their confessions.

Navid Afkari Isn’t a Culprit Even Under Iran’s Outdated Constitution

Remarkably, on September 2, in a damning revelation, Amnesty International exposed the suffering of protesters who were detained during the November 2019 uprising. This human rights group revealed that Iranian authorities exercised different kinds of torture and ill-treatment to gain their required confessions.

However, “Judge” Tahmtan issued his final sentence against these brothers. Contrary to the regular proceeding period, authorities had never permitted Afkari family to talk with the slain family and forgo Navid’s execution.

“We had gotten on the plane to go to Shiraz with Navid Afkari’s brother because the victim’s family had agreed to talk to us about forgoing the (execution). We were all hopeful that they would give their consent. One minute before departure, they called and informed his brother that Navid was hanged,” Mehdi Mahmoudian, a “reformist,” tweeted on the same day.

Also, in another audio message, Navid Afkari had demanded to be tried in the presence of journalists and the media. In response to this urge, Tahmtan had made fun of him, asking, “Did you actually raised this demand?” Notably, the judge had initially refused Navid be checked by forensic. However, the judiciary eventually was forced to accept the check due to public opinion’s pressures.

Tahmtan’s Background

Mehrdad Tahmtan is from Mianshahr town in Fasa county. Shirazian citizens know Tahmtan as a corrupt official who had released drug smugglers or issued slight sentences with furloughs in return for billion-tomans bribes. Instead, he is one of the vicious judges against protesters and ordinary people.

Thanks to his services to the mullahs’ oppressive apparatus and issuing merciless punishments against citizens, he became the head of Branch 1 of the Criminal Court in Fars province. For instance, based on warrants issued by Tahmtan, the state security forces detained many citizens in Shiraz due to participating in the nationwide protests against gasoline price hikes in November 2019.

His criminal verdicts also paved the path for intelligence agents to raid people’s homes and workplaces and abduct several citizens in Fars province. There is no information about the fate of many disappeared people who had involved in the anti-regime uprising.

Of course, under the auspices of a key perpetrator of the 30,000 political prisoners’ massacre in 1988, the judiciary system acts with impunity against people to ensure the mullahs’ rule at all costs. However, as Victor Hugo said, “No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come.” In this respect, contrary to the mullahs’ desire for nipping further protests in the bud, they must reap the whirlwind soon.

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