Iranian man sentenced to life in Sweden for 1980s crimes

STOCKHOLM — An Iranian citizen was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Swedish court on Thursday after being found guilty of serious war crimes and murder during the final phase of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

Stockholm District Court said Hamid Noury ​​took part in serious atrocities in July-August 1988 while working as an assistant deputy prosecutor in Gohardasht prison, outside the Iranian city of Karaj .

A life sentence in Sweden usually means a minimum of 20 to 25 years in prison, but it can be extended. If eventually released, Noury ​​will be expelled from Sweden. Noury ​​can appeal the verdict.

The court said Noury, 61, had participated “in the executions of numerous political prisoners in Iran during the summer of 1988” and had “the role of assistant deputy prosecutor” at the prison “jointly and in collusion with other people involved”. in executions.

The acts were considered a serious crime against international law, the court said. A second wave of executions was directed against left-wing sympathizers deemed to have renounced their Islamic faith, the court statement said, adding that “these acts were considered murder”.

They said Iran’s then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued an execution order for all prisoners in the country who sympathized with and remained loyal to the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq. , known as MEK.

Because of this order, a large number of prisoners were executed in Gohardasht prison between July 30 and August 16, 1988, Swedish prosecutors said.

During the trial which ended on May 4, Noury ​​denied any wrongdoing.

Judge Tomas Zander said Noury ​​claimed that the evidence against him had (been) fabricated” by the mujahideen who “falsely accused him of participating in a politically fabricated course of events”.

“However, nothing of substance has emerged that gives the court reason to question the reliability and robustness of the investigation,” Zander said.

The verdict comes at a tense time for relations between Stockholm and Tehran. A number of Europeans have been detained in Iran in recent months, including a Swedish tourist, two French citizens, a Polish scientist and others.

The detentions have raised concerns that Iran hoped to use the prisoners as bargaining chips to pressure the United States and European countries into granting the sanctions relief it received in under its tattered 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

In 2015, Iran and world powers agreed to the nuclear deal, which saw Tehran drastically limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Under former US President Donald Trump, the United States has since unilaterally withdrawn from the agreement. Talks in Vienna on reviving the deal have been on “pause” since March.

Noury ​​was arrested in November 2019 upon his arrival in Stockholm and has been detained ever since. Swedish news agency TT said he was lured to Sweden thinking he would be sightseeing, meeting women and attending parties.

In accordance with international practice, Swedish courts can try certain crimes committed abroad if the suspects live or are apprehended in Sweden.

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