Vahid Afkari, the jailed brother of Navid Afkari, a wrestler from Shiraz who was executed last September, has been sentenced to two years’ exile from Iran in addition to his outrageous decades-long jail sentence.
Brothers Vahid, Habib and Navid were arrested after attending popular protests in August 2018. They were charged with the murder of a security guard and forced to confess under brutal torture behind bars.
Despite the best efforts of the international community to save him, Navid Afkari was hanged in prison on September 12. Vahid and Habib were sentenced to a respective 25 years in prison and 74 lashes, and 27 years and 3 months plus 74 lashes.
Since Navid’s execution, both have been held in inhumane conditions and under solitary confinement in Adelabad Prison, Shiraz. On September 9, their other brother, Saeed Afkari, reported Vahid had also been sentenced to two years in exile.
“In earlier verdicts against my brothers there was execution, prison sentences and lashings but not exile,” he tweeted on September 9. “Taking away 25 years of my brother’s life was not enough ,so Shiraz Revolutionary Court added two years of exile to it.”
He didn’t specify what the additional charge against his brother was, or what if anything prompted the fresh sentence. The Afkaris’ case has been marked by breaches not only of international law but Iranian domestic law since the very beginning.
Prior to the new sentence, Vahid had taken his appeal to the Iranian Supreme Court. But in August the court refused to allow a judicial review. According to Saeid Dehghan, the lawyer representing the Afkari family, the ruling against Vahid Afkari alone featured no fewer than “24 contradictions and three lies” which should have prompted the court to accept a request for re-examination.
Hossein Afkari, the brothers’ father, was also charged with “insulting” and “libel” for speaking out about the case. He was sentenced to one year in prison and 74 lashes but his sentence was overturned by the appeal court.
Like other political prisoners and arbitrary detainees, Vahid has also been subjected to medical neglect by the Prisons Organization. In a statement this summer, Amnesty International called on member states of the UN Human Rights Council to pressure the Islamic Republic to release the two brothers. Calling the case an “ongoing travesty of justice”, it said the Afkaris’ treatment came amid “a protracted torture epidemic in Iran”.
The submission added: “On October 26, 2018, while still on hunger strike, Vahid Afkari attempted suicide by injuring his neck with a piece of broken glass. While he was transferred to hospital for a surgical operation, medical records reviewed by Amnesty International indicate that two days later, his treatment was interrupted, and he was returned to prison against medical advice.”