Witness to the Torture of Executed Champion Wrestler Navid Afkari Held Incommunicado
Shahin Naseri Transferred to Police Security Unit, Told Not to Testify in Court
Witness States He Saw Afkari Being Severely Beaten with Metal Rod
Shahin Naseri, a witness to the torture of Navid Afkari, the wrestler who was executed in Iran on September 12, 2020, has been held incommunicado since being transferred from prison more than two weeks ago, his lawyer Babak Paknia told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on September 27, 2020.
Since being moved to the police security unit in Shiraz, Fars Province, Naseri has only made one short call to his father-in-law to say he was in good health but he did not reveal where he was being held, according to Paknia.
“The Revolutionary Court in Shiraz says he’s in prison but when I submitted a power of attorney [for Naseri to sign], the prison authorities wrote on it that he was not there and he had been handed over to the police security unit on September 11 ” Paknia said.
He added: “Mr. Naseri was doing time for fraud and had not committed any new crime. Therefore, there was no reason for him to be moved from a public ward to the security unit. I think it surely has something to do with the Navid Afkari case. There can’t be any other reason.”
“Naseri doesn’t have any other judicial issue… based on personal experience it’s very obvious that they don’t take someone to the police security center for no reason,” Paknia told CHRI.
Afkari Severely Beaten with Metal Bar, Told to Confess to Interrogators’ Version of Events
In October 2019, Naseri filed a signed statement with the judiciary in which he said when he was brought into the police station in Shiraz in late September 2018 (soon after Afkari’s arrest), he saw Afkari being severely beaten by two plain-clothed men with a metal bar and a baton, cursing and telling him to confess to their version of the murder of a security guard in August 2018.
Afkari, who had participated in protests in Iran during the summer of 2018, was executed on September 12, 2020, despite evidence that he did not commit the crime he was accused of and his statement that he was tortured into giving a false confession was never investigated.
“We will go to the Revolutionary Court [in Shiraz] to follow up on the power of attorney, which needs to be signed. But the way Naseri has been treated is entirely unlawful,” Paknia told CHRI.
Lawyer: “In the future, no witness will agree to give testimony”
“In the whole world, the judicial system should provide conditions for witnesses to come forward and reveal the truth without fear. Often witnesses are even hidden so that nothing happens to them,” the lawyer said.
“But our judicial system in a way threatens witnesses and that’s not right. In the future, no witness will agree to give testimony,”Paknia added.
On September 19, 2020, Kazem Mousavi, the chief prosecutor in Fars Province, denied Naseri had witnessed Afkari being tortured.
“Even if Navid Afkari and Shahin Naseri were being investigated at the same time, they were in two [different] offices on separate floors that are very far apart. Therefore, it’s obvious that Naseri’s claim is a complete lie and makes no sense.”
Police Tell Witness Not to Appear in Court to Testify about Afkari’s Torture
However, in an audio file shared on social media on August 30, 2020, consistent with his written statement submitted to the judiciary, Naseri said the Medical Examiner’s Office investigated the marks on Afkari’s body and confirmed he had been tortured.
“The police said there was no need for me to appear in court to testify [about Afkari being tortured], the judge will investigate if he feels it’s necessary,’” Naseri said.
He continued: “The man standing above Navid said, ‘Whatever I say is the truth.’ I don’t know his name but he had colored eyes with a bright red face and long hair that seemed to be implants. Navid had his hands on his head. The man pounded Navid’s arm four times and cursed at him and said, ‘What I say is what happened.’”
Naseri added: “Navid was spread out on the floor with his hands on his head begging them to stop beating him. When I was brought into the station, I saw Navid’s arm was crushed and inflamed. Navid was saying ‘Sergeant Abbasi broke my arm.’
“I was at the police station for about two months and I witnessed Navid being in pain and discomfort from the broken arm. I saw his hand being struck with my own eyes.”