On Thursday, July 14, a Swedish court issued its final verdict against a perpetrator of the extrajudicial executions of 1988. Judge Thomas Sanders sentenced Hamid Noury to life imprisonment for a “serious crime against international law” and “murder.”
“This is a question of exceptionally serious crimes with such a high penalty value that the sanction cannot be anything less than lifetime imprisonment,” Swedish judges read the verdict for Noury. According to the ruling, this criminal would be permanently expelled from Sweden after serving his sentence.
"This is a question of exceptionally serious crimes with such a high penalty value that the sanction cannot be anything less than lifetime imprisonment," Swedish judges read the verdict for massacre executioner Hamid Noury in #Iran in 1988.pic.twitter.com/Vq6UZ91APc
— Iran News Update (@IranNewsUpdate1) July 14, 2022
Back in November 2019, Noury was detained in Stockholm airport for his involvement in the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988. Sweden’s principle of universal jurisdiction allows its courts to try a person on serious charges such as murder or war crimes regardless of where the alleged offenses occurred.
In July 1988, Iranian regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini ordered the judiciary to purge the country’s jails of political prisoners. Khomeini’s fatwa was incredibly inked to lead members and supporters of the main opposition group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI) to the gallows.
Based on the fatwa, the judiciary shaped “Death Commissions,” comprising Sharia judges, local prosecutors, and representatives of the intelligence apparatus. In July and August, these commissions sentenced more than 30,000 political prisoners, mostly MEK affiliates, to death in kangaroo trials.
In Tehran, the commission consisted of Revolutionary Court judge Hossein-Ali Nayeri, then-Tehran Prosecutor Morteza Eshraqi, Eshraqi’s deputy and current president Ebrahim Raisi, and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) representative Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi.
At the time, Noury was the Gohardasht Prison prosecutor. In their testimonies, massacre survivors said they witnessed Noury taking prisoners to the death commission, then transferring them to the “Death Hall.” Noury falsely claimed that he was innocent and had been on a four-month leave from prison because his wife had given birth!
However, the court found him guilty after 92 sessions in Sweden and Albania. Remarkably, Swedish authorities transferred the court from Stockholm to the Albanian coastal city of Durrës to hear MEK members’ testimonies, significantly aiding the judges and prosecutors in serving justice.
“Noury is notorious as a cold-blooded torturer,” massacre survivor Asghar Mehdizadeh testified at the court 37th session in Durrës. “During the mass executions, as one group of prisoners was hanged, prison authorities forced the other death-row prisoners to watch until their own time came.”
“Prisoners chanted, ‘Death to Khomeini; long live [MEK leader Massoud] Rajavi.’ chief Interrogator Nasserian (Mohammad Moghiseh) told his agents, ‘What are you waiting for? kick out their chairs!’ and started removing the chairs; Davood Lasghari and Abbasi—aka Noury—followed suit,” Mehdizadeh explained. “Some guards punched the hanging bodies and shouted, ‘Death to MEK members.’ I lost my control and balance as I looked at these scenes.”
A Triumph for Justice
Simultaneously, the families of 1988 massacre victims, eyewitnesses, and plaintiffs held a demonstration outside the court. For nearly three years, justice-seeker Iranians constantly rallied outside the court, showing their support for the legal process. They also countered the Iranian regime’s propaganda campaigns via MOIS agents to downplay the case and help the mass executioner evade justice.
Despite the mullahs’ public and clandestine efforts and pressure, Noury enjoyed a fair trial, which all inmates and political prisoners are deprived of in Iran. Contrary to the 1988 kangaroo trials, jurists scrutinized the entire evidence and carefully heard Noury’s defense. However, justice eventually prevailed.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), described the ruling as a triumph for justice. Notably, she launched the “Call for Justice” movement in 2016, aiming to hold the Iranian regime to account for the massacre of political prisoners.
“The Swedish Judiciary issued a life sentence for Hamid Noury, one of the perpetrators of genocide and crimes against humanity in the 1988 massacre,” Mrs. Rajavi stated. “I welcome the Swedish Judiciary’s ruling and reiterate that the prosecution of [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei and [regime president Ebrahim] Raisi is now more imperative than ever.”
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) July 14, 2022