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Sweden prosecutes former Iranian official for 1988 mass executions

Swedish prosecutors said on Tuesday that they accused an Iranian citizen of participating in mass executions and war crimes during the final phase of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

The Swedish prosecutor’s office reported that the suspect worked in July-August 1988 as an assistant to the deputy prosecutor in the Gohardasht prison near the Iranian city of Karaj and allegedly took part in atrocities there.

During the eight-year Iranian-Iraqi conflict, Iran was attacked by the People’s Mujahideen of Iran, a paramilitary political organization that advocated the overthrow of the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the establishment of its own government.

The Swedish prosecutor’s office reported that the then supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued an order to execute all prisoners in Iranian prisons who sympathized with the Mujahideen organization and remained loyal to it.

According to the prosecutor’s office, a large number of prisoners were executed in Gohardasht prison on the basis of this order from July 30 to August 16, 1988.

The suspect denies involvement

According to the Swedish indictment, the suspect “, along with other criminals in prison, participated in mass executions and is suspected of deliberately killing a very large number of prisoners who sympathized with the Mujahideen.”

The suspect was Hamid Nuri, a 60-year-old former Iranian prosecutor.

“Our client denies all allegations of involvement in the alleged 1988 executions,” his lawyer Thomas Söderkvist told AFP.

Swedish public broadcaster SVT reported that the man was arrested in November 2019 when he arrived in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, and has been in custody ever since.

The indictment states that the prosecutor’s office accuses the suspect of subjecting prisoners to severe suffering, amounting to torture and inhuman treatment.

‘Universal jurisdiction’

War Crimes ”is one of the most serious crimes both internationally and under Swedish law. Since Sweden has universal jurisdiction over violations of international law, we have both the opportunity and a certain obligation to prosecute these crimes, ”prosecutor Christina Lindhoff Carleson said in a statement.

The trial will begin on August 10 and will last for several months.

Amnesty International has previously noted that no Iranian official has been charged with the 1988 mass executions.

“This is an incredibly important event for us: all the mothers, fathers, families and other relatives of the people who have been victims of the Iranian regime,” Iraj Mesdaghi, a key witness to the trial, told TT Swedish news agency. “These crimes have never been dealt with before, I am very grateful that it finally happened.”

Mesdaghi, one of the plaintiffs in the case, was a political prisoner in Iran in 1988, reports TT.

Delicate case

Iranian state and semi-official media did not acknowledge the charges on Tuesday.

This case is very delicate given that senior Iranian officials, including current President Ebrahim Raisi, have been accused of participating in the atrocities.

Amnesty says Raisi was part of an organization known as the Tehran Death Commission or Death Commission to decide the fate of prisoners based on their political affiliations.

Raisi is under US sanctions for participating in the 1988 killings. The European Union has imposed sanctions on him for violating human rights.

He agreed that he was a member of the Tehran group, but denied playing an important role in its decisions.

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