US imposes sanctions on Iran’s judiciary over execution of wrestler

US imposes sanctions on Iran’s judiciary over execution of wrestler
US imposes sanctions on Iran’s judiciary over execution of wrestler

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The US State Department has imposed sanctions on two Iranian judges, one court and three prisons for involvement in the torture and execution of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement on Thursday afternoon. The sanctions targeted Judges Seyyed Mahmoud Sadati and Mohammad Soltani, Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz. The US also blacklisted three Iranian prisons: Adel Abad, Orumiyeh and Vakilabad.

Mr Afkari was arrested in 2018 for participating in protests and was executed on September 12, despite calls from the international community against it.

In his statement Mr Pompeo called on the Iranian regime to respect the human rights of the Iranian people. “The United States is committed to holding accountable those who are denying freedom and justice to the people of Iran, and today we are taking major new actions which support the Iranian people,” he said.

The sanctions were implemented under “the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) targeting these names for human rights violations.

“I determined that Judge Seyyed Mahmoud Sadati, Judge Mohammad Soltani, Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz, and Adelabad, Orumiyeh, and Vakilabad Prisons were responsible for certain gross violations of human rights,” Mr Pompeo said.

He accused those individuals and entities of perpetrating torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary detentions, and denials of the right to liberty of those seeking only to practice their faith, peacefully assemble, or to express themselves.

Mr Pompeo also mentioned the three Americans still detained in Iran. "This same system of injustice wrongfully detains three Americans: Baquer and Siamak Namazi, and Morad Tahbaz. We will continue to make every effort to bring them home.”

US Special Representative on Iran Elliott Abrams told Congress that these courts are tools for the Iranian regime.

“These so-called 'revolutionary courts' are not what anyone in the United States would recognise as a court. Their purpose is to maintain the regime's stranglehold on power and put Iranians who seek freedom into prison or even to order their execution,” he said, during a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.

Mr Afkari was 27 years old when he was executed. He had received two death sentences and 74 lashes for his role in the 2018 anti-regime protests.

But on Thursday as well, US envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said the US would be willing to meet with Iran to discuss the war in that country. “We have offered to meet with Iranians on this issue, that they should join various forms where we are there and they are there, to discuss the future of Afghanistan," Mr Khalizad told the United States Institute of Peace.

“Iran would like to keep us entangled in a conflict without winning or losing but paying a high price in Afghanistan until there is an agreement between the US and Iran," he said.

The administration is seeking to withdraw from Afghanistan and has struck a deal with the militant group Taliban in February toward that end.

Updated: September 25, 2020 12:41 AM

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