European Union condemns execution of Iranian champion wrestler Navid Afkari

    (CNN)The European Union says it condemns "in the strongest terms" the execution of Iranian champion wrestler Navid Afkari.

    Afkari was executed in Iran on Saturday, according to Iran's state-run news agency IRNA, despite a high-profile international campaign calling for the sentence not to be carried out.
    The 27-year-old was executed at a prison in Shiraz, according to IRNA. He had been sentenced to death in relation to the murder of the Iranian government's water and sewage department's security agent Hasan Turkman during the August 2018 protests in Shiraz, according to Iran's state media Mizan.
      "Human rights remain a central feature of our engagement with Iran," said a statement by the EU's spokesperson, issued on Monday.
        "We will continue to engage with Iranian authorities on this issue including through the local EU representation in Tehran and also on individual cases such as this recent execution.
        "The European Union is opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances and cases with no exception. It is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity."
        The International Olympic Committee said it was "shocked" by the announcement.
          "In letters, Thomas Bach, the IOC President, had made direct personal appeals to the Supreme Leader and to the President of Iran this week and asked for mercy for Navid Afkari, while respecting the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran," a statement said.
          "It is deeply upsetting that the pleas of athletes from around the world and all the behind-the-scenes work of the IOC, together with the NOC of Iran, United World Wrestling and the National Iranian Wrestling Federation, did not achieve our goal."
          Iran's judiciary spokesperson Gholam Hossein Esmaeili was quoted by the Tehran Municipality's daily newspaper Hamshari as saying on Wednesday that Afkari had been sentenced to the Islamic verdict of ghesas [qisas] or "retribution-in-kind."
          According to Hamshari, Esmaeili said Afkari was required to appease the victim's family by paying a restitution. If he was unable to do so, the judiciary would be required to carry out the death sentence, because the case had already been reviewed by the Supreme Court and because the courts said he had already confessed to killing Hassan Turkman.
          IRNA reported on Saturday that Afkari was executed after the victim's family refused to forgive him and allow him to pay restitutions.
          Afkari's lawyer Hassan Younesi told CNN that philanthropists had gone to the city of Shiraz and were trying to raise money to pay the restitution, but it was too late -- the Shiraz judiciary informed Afkari's family the sentence was already carried out and they didn't get to say goodbye.