Hamid Noury, a 60 year old Iranian former Judiciary official is on Trial in Sweden over his alleged involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in Iran in the summer of 1988. Noury was a deputy prosecutor at Gohardasht prison outside of the city of Karaj and near the capital city Tehran in the 1980s. While working in Gohardasht prison, Noury reportedly took part in the ill-treatment, lashing, torture, and execution of political prisoners.
For survivors of the mass executions and families whose loved ones were executed, this is a significant trial as it is the first time an Islamic Republic of Iran official involved in the mass killing of more than 5,000 political prisoners is charged with a crime.
In a statement about the trial the Swedish prosecutor said that Noury along with other perpetrators in the Islamic Republic Judiciary and prison systems are involved in “intentionally killing …a large number of prisoners who sympathized with various left-wing groups and who were regarded as apostates.”
Noury is facing two charges: “committing grave war crimes and murder in Iran during 1988.” The charge is under war crimes because the law that allows the Swedish prosecutor to charge a defendant with crimes against humanity cannot apply to cases committed before 1 July 2014. “Therefore, the indictment involves crimes against the international law i.e. war crimes as well as murder,” according to the prosecutor’s office.
On Aug 12, on the third day of Noury’s trial the Swedish court heard from witnesses who described him as a ruthless man who celebrated each mass execution in the premises of Gohardasht prison by distributing pastries; a man who is known to those who survived the killings as a cruel torturer who lashed prisoners personally before sending them off to be executed.
Outside of the Stockholm District Court, hundreds of the survivors of the mass executions including families, former political prisoners, and political groups affected by the killings had gathered to voice their support for the trial. A large group of the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran who is one of the political groups whose members were executed also gathered along with communist and socialist groups who had also lost members in the mass killings.
Iraj Mesdaghi, a former political prisoner who escaped the mass killings, in a teaser of a documentary that was published on social media explains that they lured Noury into Sweden and working with the Swedish authorities built a case for his arrest upon arrival in Stockholm Arlanda Airport in 2019.
Noury was under temporary arrest order for one year and nine months until the Swedish prosecutor was able to gather enough evidence to present to the court –a case that so far has gathered evidence from 35 plaintiffs and 25 witnesses that will speak during the trial which is to take weeks to complete. So far three days have passed and the court is to resume next week.
Iraj Mesdaghi in the beginning of the third day of the trial told Zamaneh Media at the courthouse that he is thrilled that “someone who was once worshiped as a god in Gohardasht prison is being held accountable before the court today.”
The executions at Gohardasht prison that are being examined in Sweden have happened between 30 July and 16 Aug, 1988. Sweden has called upon those affected by the mass executions at this prison to come forward.
The Mothers of Laleh Park in Iran who are an umbrella group of mothers for justice including those who have lost their children in the mass killing, expressed hope for the trial in a statement and wrote: “
“The start of Hamid Noury’s trial in the Swedish court in Stockholm is gratifying and shows that the courageous struggles of mothers and families over the past 40 years for justice ….has yielded.”
Survivors of the mass executions and the families of those killed in Iranian prisons have long awaited justice and an end to the impunity of Iranian officials involved in the mass killing of political prisoners in 1980s in Iran. One of those officials in Iran’s current president Ebrahim Raisi who was one of the four judges that were a member of what has come to be known as the “death commission” that ordered the mass execution of political prisoners in Iran.