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July 14, 2022 12:13 pm

Swedish Court Sentences Iranian Official to Life Imprisonment for Massacres of Political Prisoners

avatar by Ben Cohen

Demonstrators outside a court in Stockholm, Sweden, welcoming the life sentence handed to Iranian regime operative Hamid Nouri. Photo: Reuters/Chris Anderson/TT News Agency

An Iranian regime operative has been sentenced by a Swedish court to life imprisonment over his participation in a series of gruesome massacres of political prisoners.

The court in Stockholm on Thursday passed sentence on Hamid Nouri, 61, for his role “in the executions of many political prisoners in Iran in the summer of 1988.” Some 5,000 left-wing and secular nationalist opponents of Iran’s Islamist regime were put to death in the wake of a series of attacks by the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MeK), a guerrilla organization, towards the end of the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88.

Judge Tomas Zander remarked that Nouri had failed to disprove the allegations leveled against him by the MeK and other groups, saying: “Nothing substantial has emerged which gives the court reason to question the investigation’s reliability and robustness.”

Nouri was working as an assistant to the deputy prosecutor at the Gohardasht prison outside the Iranian city of Karaj when the executions were ordered. The killings were authorized by three judges who presided over the so-called “Death Commission,” one of whom — Ebrahim Raisi — is now the president of the Islamic Republic. A total of 58 witnesses testified against Nouri, many of whom confirmed that he was present at prisoner executions.

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Iran immediately dismissed the verdict as being politically motivated. A statement from the foreign ministry in Tehran said the regime “strongly condemns this political statement, which consists of making unfounded and fabricated accusations against Iran and its judicial system, along with the life sentence against Hamid Nouri.”

Toby Dershowitz, senior vice-president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington, DC, welcomed the court’s verdict but warned that Iran’s suppression of human rights persists.

“For 34 years, the Islamic Republic has sought to cover up, whitewash, and keep secret the actions of the Death Commission that sent some 5,000 political prisoners to the gallows to be executed,” Dershowitz told The Algemeiner on Thursday.

“Such cruelty and human rights abuse by the Islamic Republic continues today,” she continued. “The 1988 massacres were horrific but regrettably not an anomaly. It merely served as training for some of today’s regime leaders.”

Dershowitz added that it was “noteworthy that the verdict was announced as a range of threats from Iran feature prominently on the agenda of President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia,” observing that “Iran may just be the reason that Saudis and Israelis move toward a more hopeful future.”

Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), described the verdict as “historic” because an Iranian official had been held accountable for human rights abuse for the first time since the Islamic Revolution of 1980.

“Unlike thousands of political prisoners who were executed without due process based on their religious and political beliefs in Iran in 1988, Hamid was tried in a democratic country through a fair and lengthy judicial process that granted him every avenue to prepare a thorough defense,” Ghaemi said on Twitter.

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