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Protester's Death Sentence Based On Bogus Evidence, Lawyer Says

Iran -- Navid Afkari, Iranian wrestler has been reportedly sentenced to death for participating in anti-government protests in Shiraz and Kazerun, Iran.

The lawyer of Navid Afkari, a 27-year-old man who received two death sentences for allegedly killing a security agent during the 2018 protests in Isfahan, says the footage that the court is using against the defendant was filmed "an hour before the incident.”

Navid was originally arrested alongside his two brothers Vahid and Habib in August 2018, and was charged by the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz with "taking up arms against the regime.” The Supreme Court passed down a death sentence to Navid, with Vahid receiving a 54-year sentence and Habib being sentenced to 27 years, as well as 74 lashes each.

In a tweet on Monday, Hassan Younesi, Navid’s lawyer, said that the footage does not show any images of the alleged crime, and that Navid and his two brothers confessed to the crime "under psychological and physical duress,” with Navid previously claiming that he was subjected to brutal torture to confess to a murder that he did not commit.

In a series of tweets on Monday, the Mizan judiciary-affiliates news agency claimed that the "murder" was documented on CCTV, and that Navid had planned to assassinate a Basij militia member.

During his trial, Navid repeatedly asked for the CCTV footage that allegedly showed his crime, but his request was turned down. Navid has also said that he was not allowed legal representation during his trial, and that Younesi was only recently assigned to his case.

Trials in Iran are held without a jury, and in most security-related cases, the court does not allow the defendant to choose a lawyer and assigns its own chosen lawyer to defend the accused as a formality.

Mizan also accused BBC's Persian Channel and the London-based Iran International TV of elevating "criminals who threaten people's lives as innocents” and using Navid’s case as an excuse to attack Iran.

The news agency maintained that Navid attacked the security officer with a knife while the officer was returning home from work, and claimed that Navid and Habib also assaulted a police officer on another occasion.

In a video message on Sunday, Bahiyeh Namjoo, the mother of the three brothers, called for justice for her sons and said they were tortured to "make accusations against each other.” Namjoo said that Navid, a wrestler, has committed suicide in prison on three different occasions, and that her husband and even her son-in-law were arrested in connection with her sons' case.

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    Maryam Sinaiee

    Maryam Sinaiee is a British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National, who contributes to Radio Farda.