Amnesty calls for probe into Iran custody death

Amnesty calls for investigation into Iran custody death of 'torture witness'
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Human rights organisation Amnesty International has urged a probe into the death of Shahin Naseri, who provided testimony about the torture of prisoners.
Naseri reported on the torture of protester Navid Afkari [Getty]

Amnesty International urged Iran on Wednesday to fully investigate the "suspicious" death in custody of an inmate who it said testified to witnessing the torture of executed wrestler and protester Navid Afkari.

Shahin Naseri, 49, died in September after being transferred from prison in Tehran to an unknown location, Amnesty said in a statement.

He had notably provided witness testimony over the torture of Afkari, whose execution in September 2020 caused an international outcry.

"Iranian authorities must urgently carry out an effective, thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into the causes and circumstances surrounding the enforced disappearance and suspicious death," Amnesty said.

It added that according to its information, Naseri called at least two individuals from the prison clinic using another prisoner's phone, expressing fears his life was in danger.

"This latest case of enforced disappearance and death in custody serves as yet another stark reminder of the deadly consequences of the crisis of systemic impunity in Iran for violations to the right to life and other crimes under international law," it said.

Amnesty last month issued a report saying that Iran has failed to provide accountability for at least 72 deaths in custody since January 2010, "despite credible reports that they resulted from torture or other ill-treatment or the lethal use of firearms and tear gas by officials".

Iran's prison's administration has confirmed the death of Naseri, saying he died following an attempt to resuscitate him over an unspecified medical condition.

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Amnesty said Naseri had provided "multiple written affidavits" to the authorities in 2019 and 2020 in support of the torture complaints, defence submissions, and appeal and judicial review requests lodged by Afkari.

The 27-year-old wrestler who had won national competitions was hanged in September 2020 in the southern city of Shiraz after being convicted of committing a murder during protests that rocked the city two years before.

But he had complained of being tortured into confessing, with methods that included beating and having alcohol squeezed up his nose.

According to Amnesty, his brothers Vahid and Habib Afkari remain in jail in what it describes as "arbitrary" detention related to the scrutiny over Navid's execution.