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U.S. sanctions Iran's judicial, penal system over human rights abuses

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday imposed sanctions against Judge Seyyed Mahmoud Sadati who sentenced Navid Afkari to death as well as the prison where the young wrestler was allegedly tortured to give a false confession to murder. File Photo by Alexander Becher/EPA-EFE
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday imposed sanctions against Judge Seyyed Mahmoud Sadati who sentenced Navid Afkari to death as well as the prison where the young wrestler was allegedly tortured to give a false confession to murder. File Photo by Alexander Becher/EPA-EFE

Sept. 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department on Thursday imposed a slew of sanctions targeting Iran's judicial and penal systems, including a judge who sentenced a wrestler to death, over gross human rights violations.

Navid Afkari, 27, was executed Sept. 12 after being convicted of murdering a government employee during the 2018 protests in a trial that the State Department called "rushed and grossly unfair."

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His execution attracted widespread condemnation for allegations torture was used to extract a false confession from Afkari.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Judge Seyyed Mahmoud Sadati and Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court were being sanctioned as they oversaw Afkari's trial and the Adelabad Prison where Afkari's alleged torture took place.

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"His killing was an unconscionable act," Pompeo said in a statement. "The United States calls upon all nations to promote accountability for this regime by imposing sanctions like the ones announced today."

Sanctions were also imposed Thursday against Judge Mohammad Soltani of Iran's Revolutionary Court system for sentencing members of the Baha'is faith on "dubious charges" connected to the practice of their religion, Pompeo said.

The Vakilabad Prison, where U.S. citizen Michael White was held until he was released in June, and the Orumiyeh Prison, where members of ethnic and religious minority groups and political prisoners are alleged to be abused and beaten, were also sanctioned.

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"The actions taken today by the United States expose Iran's Revolutionary courts and their judges for what they really are: tools designed to enforce the Iranian regime's brutal ideology and suppress dissent," Pompeo said. "They do not fairly administer justice, but rather seek to deprive the Iranian people of due process as well as their human rights and fundamental freedoms."

Imposed under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017, the sanctions freeze all U.S. assets of those designated while prohibiting U.S. citizens from doing business with them.

The sanctions were imposed as relations between Tehran and Washington further fray as the Trump administration seeks to unilaterally re-impose U.N. sanctions upon the Middle Eastern country.

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