Man Who Witnessed Torture of Iranian Wrestler Afkari Is Found Dead

By Kayhan Life Staff

The Greater Tehran Penitentiary Administration has reportedly asked the coroner’s office to determine the cause of death of Shahin Naseri, who allegedly witnessed champion wrestler Navid Afkari being tortured by security forces when they were both inmates in the Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz, capital of the southeastern province of Fars.

Mr. Afkari, a 27-year-old champion wrestler, was charged with murdering a security guard at the Shiraz Water and Wastewater Management Company during the nationwide protests of 2018 and was hanged hurriedly and secretly on Sept. 12, 2020, in the Adel Abad Prison without prior notice to him, his family, or his lawyer.

In a recently leaked audio file, a man claiming to be Farhad Salmanpour-Zahir, and Mr. Naseri’s cellmate in the Greater Tehran Penitentiary (also known as Fashafoyeh Prison), is heard saying that he saw “the lifeless body of Naseri being transferred in a wheelchair from solitary confinement, controlled by the Ministry of Intelligence, to the prison’s infirmary.”

Following the news of Naseri’s “suspicious death,” the Greater Tehran Penitentiary Administration released a vague statement, confirming the report, adding that the medical examiner’s office was investigating the cause of death.

The statement described Naseri’s health condition as “critical” before his transfer to the prison’s infirmary, adding that “efforts were made to resuscitate him at the infirmary including administrating chest compression, using artificial ventilation, injecting epinephrine and inserting peripheral IV.”

“Despite the best efforts of the medical staff to save his life, Mr. Naseri passed away,” the statement said.

Before his death, Naseri had reportedly spoken three times with his lawyer, Babak Pirnia, saying he was afraid for his life.

On the first anniversary of the death of Navid Afkari on Sept. 12, Naseri was reportedly transferred to solitary confinement in the Greater Tehran Penitentiary, known as the “suite,” where he died a few days later.

Iran’s Attorney General Hojatoleslam Mohammad Jafar Montazeri has asked the media to direct all their inquiries about Naseri’s death “to the relevant officials.”

Mr. Salmanpour-Zahir said Shahin Naseri had planned to release a statement from prison on the first anniversary of the death of Navid Afkari. However, the prison authorities had transferred him to solitary confinement, given that security agencies monitor all phone calls by political prisoners.

Salmanpour-Zahir noted that Naseri had released an audio file on the anniversary of the death of Navid Afkari from his prison cell, after which he was taken to the prison officer on duty around 06:30 local time on Sept. 13, before being moved to an undisclosed location.

According to Salmanpour-Zahir, other prisoners initially thought Naseri was taken to the Intelligence Ministry’s Cellblock 209 but discovered later that he had been transferred to solitary confinement in the Greater Tehran Penitentiary known as the “suite,” where he had no contact with the outside world.

Salmanpour-Zahir alleged that at 10:30 am on Sept. 21, prison officials carried Naseri’s lifeless body in a wheelchair to the infirmary in prison’s Unit-5 before transferring him to the coroner’s office, given the prison infirmary could not determine the cause of death.

Salmanpour-Zahir believes Naseri was “killed” after being transferred to solitary confinement, which is under the Intelligence Ministry’s control.

“I deliberately use the term killed because, as you know, Mr. Shahin Naseri had repeatedly spoken about witnessing the torture of Navid Afkari,” Salmanpour-Zahir said on the audio clip leaked from prison. “Authorities had moved him to the security detention cellblock several times and threatened him not to speak about the matter.”

Expecting that the state might cover up Naseri’s death as a suicide, Salmanpour-Zahir said: “Mr. Shahin Naseri was neither depressed nor had any psychological problems, and, therefore, was not suicidal. He was married, had a family, and was very hopeful about the future. Naseri was determined to fight the regime. He was neither weak nor suicidal. He was very healthy and did not suffer from any illness, so nothing unexpected could have happened to him.”

“Undoubtedly, the regime and its security apparatus are culprits in the death of this prisoner given they announced his death shortly after transferring him to solitary confinement,” Salmanpour-Zahir argued on the audio clip. “They had ordered his death. A person in solitary confinement has no access to the unauthorized drug, and, therefore, cannot commit suicide.”

There were many reports about Navid Afkari being tortured to extract a confession before his execution on Sept. 12 at Shiraz’s Adel Abad Prison. However, authorities have repeatedly denied he confessed under duress, maintaining that Afkari “admitted to his crime under normal conditions.”

In a leaked audio file, a man claiming to be Shahin Naseri, who at the time was serving a sentence for a non-political offense at the Adel Abad Prison, is heard contradicting the state’s claim that Afkari was not tortured.

In a document titled “investigating the witness,” Shahin Naseri, a financial analyst, detailed the day he saw Navid Afkari “being tortured” in Shiraz.

In an exclusive report, the Prague-based Radio Farda broadcast an audio clip on Sept. 22, purportedly recorded by Shahin Naseri right before his death. In it, Naseri is heard saying that he wished to denounce his citizenship “under this godless regime” and destroy all documents that made him a “subject of a clerical rule,” including removing the word “Seyyed” from his name.

In the clip, Naseri declared his solidarity for the late Navid Afkari and his two brothers Habib and Vahid Afkari — who are currently in Shiraz’s Adel Abad Prison — urging people to overthrow the “reactionary and despotic regime” and do not abandon each other, especially in the provinces of Khuzestan, Kurdistan and Sistan, and Baluchestan.

He called on everyone to rise and end the rule of the “fascist clergies, and the corrupt thugs impersonating pious religious men, who have looted the national treasury and country’s resources.”

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Link to the Farsi page


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