Thursday, December 9

1988 executions in Iran: at trial in Sweden, accused denounces “lies”

A former Iranian official accused of having participated in the mass executions of opponents in Iran in 1988 denounced Tuesday the “lies” of the “fictitious” charges brought against him, in an unprecedented trial held in Sweden.

Three months after the opening of his trial and dozens of hearings with civil parties, Hamid Noury, 60, is heard for the first time this week by the Stockholm court.

“I have only four days to answer all the lies told to the Iranian people,” said the accused, light shirt and pants and finely trimmed white beard.

“When we go into details we see that it does not hold. I will put an end to 33 years of lies,” he assured, without going into details himself.

At the opening of the hearing Tuesday morning, the defense had requested and obtained from the court an opening statement from Mr. Noury, before he was questioned by prosecutors.

This is the first time that an Iranian has been tried in this bloody episode ordered by Ayatollah Khomeini at the end of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), estimated at 5,000 dead by human rights groups.

The 1988 executions, pronounced by “death committees”, mainly targeted the opposition organization of the Iranian People’s Mujahedin (PMOI, or MEK in Persian), armed at the time and supported by the enemy regime of Saddam Hussein.

The trial has already made it possible to hear several witnesses, in Sweden but also during a trip in recent days to Albania, often members or former members of the PMOI.

According to the prosecution, Hamid Noury ​​at the time was an assistant to the deputy prosecutor at Gohardasht prison in Karaj, near Tehran, a model of which was installed in the courtroom.

The Iranian denies his involvement and says he was not present, according to his lawyers.

“He says he was not there, but we have 58 people who say the opposite,” Kenneth Lewis, civil party lawyer, told AFP.

Several witnesses claim to have formally recognized it.

“When I was on death row, I had the opportunity to see him several times, and I saw that whenever names of (prisoners) were read, he followed them to in the execution room, “Reza Falahi, one of the witnesses in the trial, told AFP.

– Trapped by a cruise –

“He would come back 45 minutes later, and the scene would repeat itself several times a day,” said the 61-year-old PMOI member.

Possible because of the universal jurisdiction of the Swedish courts for the most serious charges, the trial is considered historic by human rights organizations.

Hamid Noury ​​is being prosecuted for “war crimes” and “murders” for having, between July 30 and August 16, 1988, “taken the lives of a very large number of prisoners sympathetic to or belonging to the People’s Mojahedin”, targeted by a execution order of Ayatollah Khomeini.

The case is very sensitive in Iran, with activists accusing members of the government of having played a role there, such as President Ebrahim Raïssi who recently took office and accused by Amnesty of having been a member of a “Death Commission “.

Asked in 2018 and 2020 about these executions, Mr. Raïssi denied having been involved in them, but paid “tribute” to the “order” given, according to him, by Ayatollah Khomeini to proceed with this purification.

“I want the international community to come to the conclusion that there is no way out, that (those responsible) must face their crimes,” Ahmad Ebrahimi, another survivor of the purges, told AFP who now lives in the UK.

A few dozen PMOI members demonstrated in court Tuesday morning to demand justice.

Hamid Noury ​​was arrested in November 2019 at Stockholm airport during a visit to Sweden, where he has been detained since.

It was a former prisoner of Gohardasht, Iraj Mesdaghi, who had allowed his arrest. He had lured Hamid Noury ​​to Swedish soil by tempting him with a cruise for him and his family.

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