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Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari executed, says state media

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Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari has been executed after being convicted of stabbing to death a security guard, according to state media.

Afkari was executed “this morning after legal procedures were carried out at the insistence of the parents and the family of the victim”, Kazem Mousavi, head of the justice department in southern Fars province, was quoted as saying.

Authorities accused Afkari, 27, of stabbing the water supply company employee in the southern city of Shiraz. Iran broadcast the wrestler’s televised confession last week.

But Afkari said he was tortured into making a false confession, according to his family and activists. His lawyer said there was no proof of his guilt. Iran’s judiciary, however, denied the torture claims.

Afkari and his brothers were employed as construction workers in Shiraz, 680km (420 miles) south of the capital, Tehran.

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The provincial court in Shiraz also sentenced Afkari’s brothers Vahid Afkari and Habib Afkari to 54 and 27 years in prison, respectively, over the killing.

Afkari’s attorney accused authorities of denying his client a family visit before the execution, as required by law.

“Were you in so much hurry to execute the sentence that you also deprived Navid of a last meeting?” Hassan Younesi said on Twitter.

There was no immediate reaction by Iranian officials to the attorney’s accusation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday condemned the execution.

“The Iranian regime’s execution of Navid Afkari is a vicious and cruel act. We condemn it in the strongest terms. It is an outrageous assault on human dignity, even by the despicable standards of this regime. The voices of the Iranian people will not be silenced,” Pompeo tweeted.

‘Very different’ stories

Al Jazeera’s Assed Baig, reporting from Tehran, said there are two different narratives about the murder.

“Outside Iran we’re hearing that Navid Afkari was arrested due to these protests that took place in 2018 and alleged killing of a security officer. Inside Iran, it’s very different. Navid Afkari was arrested by police who identified him using CCTV footage. As far as the judiciary is concerned, his arrest and conviction have nothing to do with the protests that took place,” said Baig.

Afkari was shown performing a stabbing gesture during a police reconstruction of the killing while saying, “I hit twice, once and then again.” Human rights groups frequently accuse Iran’s state media of airing coerced confessions. Iran denies the accusation.

The International Olympic Committee said the execution of Afkari was “very sad news”, adding in a statement that IOC President Thomas Bach had written this week to Iranian leaders asking for mercy for him, while respecting Iran’s sovereignty.

Trump’s appeal

Afkari’s sentencing had triggered a social media campaign that portrayed him and his brothers as victims targeted for participating in the 2018 protests. On Tuesday, a global union representing 85,000 athletes had called for Iran’s expulsion from world sport if it executed Afkari.

United States President Donald Trump also expressed his own concerns.

“To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man’s life, and not execute him,” Trump tweeted earlier this month. “Thank you!”

Iran responded to Trump’s tweet by running an 11-minute state TV broadcast on Afkari, which included the weeping parents of Turkman.

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The broadcast included visuals of Afkari on a motorbike, saying he stabbed Turkman in the back, without explaining why he allegedly carried out the assault.

The state TV segment also showed blurred police documents and described the killing as a “personal dispute”, without elaborating.

It said Afkari’s mobile phone had been in the area and it showed surveillance footage of him walking down a street, talking on his phone.

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency dismissed Trump’s tweet in a feature story, saying that American sanctions have hurt Iranian hospitals amid the pandemic.

“Trump is worried about the life of a murderer while he puts many Iranian patients’ lives in danger by imposing severe sanctions,” the agency said.

Baig noted state television has carried an interview with the parents of Hassan Turkman, and in it they said their son was murdered and they had the right to retribution.

They added, “the foreign media had not even bothered speaking to them when their son was killed, and that he left behind three children. So there are two very different narratives,” said Baig.

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Armenian Aggression

Prices of Azerbaijani oil continue to grow

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By Trend

The price of Azeri LT CIF Augusta, produced at the Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater Gunashli (ACG) field, increased by $1.14 on Oct.22 compared to the previous price, reaching $42.63 per barrel, Trend reports with reference to the source from the country's oil and gas market.

The price of Azeri LT FOB Ceyhan amounted to $42.13 per barrel in Oct.22, which is up by $1.12 compared to the previous price.

Azerbaijan has been producing Azeri LT since 1997 and exporting it via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) and Baku-Supsa Western Export Pipeline, as well as by rail to the Georgian port of Batumi.

Azerbaijan also sells its URALS oil from the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, delivering it through the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline.

The price of URALS with shipment from the port reached $41.85 per barrel in Oct.22, having grown by 98 cents compared to the previous price.

The cost of a barrel of Brent Dated oil, produced in the North Sea, made up $41.52 per barrel, up by $1.05 compared to the previous price.

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Armenian Aggression

Chairman of US Educated Azerbaijani Alumni Association appeals to US Ambassador in Azerbaijan

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Chairman of the U.S. Educated Azerbaijani Alumni Association Nail Akhundzade sent an appeal to US Ambassador in Azerbaijan Lee Litzenberger, Trend reports.

“We the U.S. Educated Azerbaijani Alumni have always taken pride and the pleasure of being ambassadors of the U.S. culture and values in Azerbaijan and unanimously share an uncompromised and strong belief that our voice matters, in both Azerbaijan and the U.S. This belief stems from the dedicated support and encouragement we have always received from the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Baku,” the letter said.

“Confiding in that belief, we decided to write this open letter directly to you.

Mr. Ambassador, as you are aware, as of September 27, 2020 – the day when the Republic of Armenia started its military aggression against the Republic of Azerbaijan – we have to wake up every day with the alarming and saddening news of innocent civilian people losing their lives and being hurt and wounded in Azerbaijan. Additionally, despite the signed humanitarian ceasefire, the Armenian Army continues the shelling of civilian targets in Azerbaijani cities of Ganja, Terter, Fuzuli, Aghdam, and Mingachevir. As a result, civilians, including children and women are being killed, injured and many civilian facilities are being destroyed,” the letter said.

“Sadly, though, this outrageous illegal behavior of Armenia does not get enough coverage in the U.S. media and political circles. Rather, we often see biased, infatuated statements by U.S. media and politicians on the nature of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and on the identification of the true aggressor,” the appeal said.

“Using the opportunity, we wish to ask you to support us with the communication of our position at the U.S State Department and Congress as outlined in the attached Summary. We thank you in advance for your time and efforts in advance and looking forward to hearing from you soon. We wish you a nice week, strength, and inspiration for the noble work you are doing in Azerbaijan!” the letter said.

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Armenian Aggression

Israel sends humanitarian aid to Azerbaijan

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Israel sent humanitarian aid to Azerbaijan. This information was posted on the Twitter page of the Israeli embassy, Trend reports on Oct. 23.

The medical supplies sent from Israel to Azerbaijan have been transferred to the country's clinics. Humanitarian aid is still sent.

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