Iran’s has “strongly condemned” a Swedish court’s sentencing of a former Iranian jailor to life imprisonment over executions of political prisoners in 1988.
Following the announcement of Nouri’s sentencing Thursday, foreign ministry's new spokesperson Naser Kanani in a statement “strongly condemned” the Swedish court’s “politically-motivated and unacceptable” verdict against Nouri, saying the Stockholm government would be responsible for the damage the verdict would cause in bilateral relations.
Kanani accused Sweden of giving into pressure by an Albania-based opposition group, Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK), that Tehran considers a terrorist organization. Most of the approximately 5,000 prisoners summarily executed in prisons were members of MEK serving their sentences.
On the eve of the court ruling, Iran repeated calls for Nouri’s release, saying his detention is driven by “false allegations” made by the MEK.
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, met with Majid Nouri, Hamid Nouri’s son, on Wednesday. In the meeting he said he had held a telephone call with Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde and called for Nouri’s immediate release.
Kanani accused the Swedish court that Nouri’s “most basic human rights” have been denied during his 30 months incarceration. “The treatment of Nouri and the limitations imposed on him is clear proof a violation of human rights by those who claim [to defend] human rights,” the statement said.
The accusations coming from one of the world’s most criticized human rights abusers would hardly find any attentive ears.
Some of the victims of the 1988 prison killings in Iran
Iranian activists, opponents of the Islamic Republic and human rights defenders showed their immense satisfaction on social media over the verdict, expressing hope that the main leaders who approved and organized the killings would one day face independent courts.
Nouri, now 61, was charged with “war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture, and participating in the continued crime of refusing to return the bodies of executed prisoners to their families.” He has denied any wrongdoing and said plaintiffs' allegations were a "completely imaginary story".
In April Swedish prosecutors who invoked the principle of "universal jurisdiction" for serious crimes to bring the case to trial submitted their final indictment life imprisonment for Nouri.
Nouri, a former deputy prosecutor at Gohardasht Prison near Tehran at the time of the killings, is the first person ever put on trial for the executions carried out based on a fatwa by Iran's then-supreme leader, Ruhollah Khomeini, against the MEK which carried out a wave of bombings in Iran and struck an alliance with Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 war. “Showing mercy to those who take up arms against the Islamic government is being naïve,” Khomeini said in his fatwa.
Most of victims were linked to the MEK but there were also some with links to leftist and secular groups such as Fadaiyan Khalq Organization (FKO) and Tudeh Party as well as some Kurdish groups such as Komala and Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran.
The exact number of prisoners executed during the purging of prisoners in 1988 is not known but according to Amnesty International, the Iranian authorities "forcibly disappeared" and "extrajudicially executed" around 5,000 between July and September 1988.
There are allegations that Iran seeks to exchange Nouri with Swedish-Iranian scientist and academic Ahmad-Reza Djalali arrested on vague charges of espionage and collaboration with Israel in 2016 and sentenced to death in 2017.