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US hits Iran court, judges with sanctions over wrestler

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration on Thursday hit an Iranian revolutionary court and several judges with sanctions in part for their role in the conviction and execution of a young wrestler.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo imposed the sanctions on two judges with Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz as well as three prisons where he said human rights abuses were rampant. The sanctions include asset freezes and ban Americans from doing business with the targets.

Pompeo said Judge Seyyed Mahmoud Sadati was being hit for his involvement in the case of 27-year-old wrestler Navid Afkari who was executed earlier this month despite worldwide appeals for clemency, including from President Donald Trump. Pompeo called the execution “an unconscionable act” that “must not be in vain.”

“The United States calls upon all nations to promote accountability for this regime by imposing sanctions like the ones announced today,” Pompeo said. “Too often, the Iranian regime targets, arrests, and kills the brightest and most promising Iranians, thereby depriving Iran of its greatest asset – the skill and talent of its own people.”

On Sept. 12, Iran executed Afkari, who was convicted of murder, despite an international outcry to stop the execution and following Trump’s plea. His case had drawn attention after a social media campaign portrayed him and his brothers, who remain in prison, as victims who were targeted because they participated in protests against Iran’s Shiite theocracy in 2018.

Authorities accused Afkari of fatally stabbing a water supply company employee in the southern city of Shiraz amid the unrest.

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