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More Than Thirty People Are On Death Row In Iran, Says Afkari's Lawyer

Iran -- Hassan Younesi Lawyer
Iran -- Hassan Younesi Lawyer

Hassan Younesi, an attorney of the Iranian wrestling champion Navid Afkari who was executed last week, disclosed that at least thirty inmates are on death row in the Islamic Republic's prisons across Iran.

"More than thirty people are currently on death row," Hassan Younesi tweeted on Monday, adding, "We are waiting to see what they (Islamic Republic authorities) do."

Younessi's tweet was a response to the critics who had demanded information about Iranian prisoners facing the death penalty.

Afkari, an Iranian wrestler arrested in the wake of anti-Islamic Republic protests in August 2018, was sentenced to death for allegedly killing a security guard in Shiraz.

Afkari, who was 27 years old when he died, was heard in a leaked audio clip recorded in Adelabad prison explaining his innocence, which sparked a series of worldwide protests calling for his release. "The security forces and judiciary have forced me under torture to claim responsibility for the murder," Afkari was heard saying in the audio.

While Afkari's attorneys were trying to persuade the alleged victim's family to pardon Afkari and save his life, the Iranian judiciary carried out Afkari's death sentence without providing prior notice to his relatives and attorneys.

According to Babak Paknia, who assisted Younesi in defending Afkari, the accused's last contact with his family was Friday, September 11 at 11:30 pm. No information is available about what happened in between Afkari's final words to his family and, several hours later, Iranian authorities' announcement that Afkari had been hanged early Saturday.

Afkari's execution triggered a wave of protests and outrage on social media and provoked widespread international reactions, though Iran's judiciary asserted that global pressure had no impact on their decision.

In his Twitter message, Younesi quoted political prisoners as saying that at least thirty inmates are on death row in Iranian prisons, though he stopped short of elaborating on the inmates' cases.

Also on death row are three protesters detained in the November 2019 uprising against the Islamic Republic, Amir Hossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi, and Saeed Tamjidi, whose executions were suspended after a wave of virtual protests with the hashtag "Do not execute."

Paknia, who also represents the three protesters, announced on Monday that he had submitted his latest defense bill to the President of the Supreme Court's office.

On August 1, the Human Rights Organization of Iran (HROI) published two pages of court documents related to five additional protesters detained in Isfahan in central Iran. The death sentences of the five, the Oslo-based organization disclosed, had been issued and finalized.

Based on the HROI report, Mohammad Bastami, Hadi Kiani, Abbas Mohammadi, Majid Nazari Kondari, and Mehdi Salehi Qaleh Shahrokhi are the five protesters who have been sentenced to death on charges such as "moharebeh" (war against God) and "corruption on earth."

During the widespread anti-Islamic Republic protests from December 2017 to November 2019, which resulted in hundreds of people's deaths by direct fire from police and security officials, thousands were detained in various Iran cities, some of whom were sentenced to long prison terms and death.