Brussels (Brussels Morning) A war crimes trial against an Iranian national suspected of murdering more than 100 political prisoners during the regime of late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini began in Sweden on Tuesday.
Around 100 protesters gathered outside the Stockholm courtroom, carrying signs opposing the current theocratic regime in Tehran, as the trial to 60-year old Hamid Noury got underway. He was charged late last month with the murders of more than 100 of the regime’s political opponents, executions that were carried out Iranian prisons in the final days of the Iran-Iraq war, and therefore constituting war crimes.
Noury, a prosecution official who worked at the Gohardasht prison near the city of Karaj in 1988, when the murders are believed to have taken place, is the first member of the Iranian regime to stand trial for what is believed to have been a massive purge of the People’s Mujahedeen (MEK) members and its sympathisers.
Even though MEK participated in the 1979 Iranian revolution, contributing to the removal of the Western-backed Shah Mohhamed Reza Pahlavi, the group sought to establish a much more democratic regime in post-revolutionary Iran, but soon came to blows with the Khomeini regime.
During the Iran-Iraq war, the group openly sided with Iraq, hoping to oust the theocratic regime. Many of its members and supporters ended up in Iranian prisons. According to the Swedish prosecution, a large number of these prisoners were executed between 30 July and 16 August 1988, the order for the purge believed to have come from Khomeini himself.
A 2018 Amnesty International report claimed at least 5,000 people were killed during this period, with the actual number deemed likely to have been higher. Rights groups have been demanding justice for the victim in the decades since, although no one has ever been held responsible until now.
Noury was reportedly one of four judges on a judiciary commission in the Gohardasht prison, which oversaw the cases of prisoners interned there, deciding on the spot who was to be executed and who was to be spared. Swedish prosecutor Kristina Lindhoff Carleson began the Stockholm trial proceedings on Tuesday by reading the names of the 110 people who were executed on order of the commission. Noury denied the accusations.