Stockholm’s District Court sentenced a former Iranian official to life in prison on Thursday for war crimes and the murder of political prisoners during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
At the time of the killings, Hamid Noury was a 27-year-old assistant to the deputy prosecutor at Gohardasht prison in Karaj, Iran. According to prosecutors, the killings were ordered by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s leader at the time. The executed prisoners were loyal to an Iranian opposition group, Mujahedeen-e-Khalq.
Noury, now 61, was arrested upon arrival at the Stockholm airport in 2019. He has denied the accusations.
The Swedish court said it believed the executions were a “serious violation against international humanitarian law” because of the international armed conflict.
A crowd of victims’ families gathered outside the courtroom cheered as the verdict was announced, said the Courthouse News Service. Many of relatives testified throughout the trial.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry believes the verdict is “politically motivated and it has no legal validity,” spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said in a statement.
Observers said the verdict heightens the already tense relationship between Iran and Sweden amid concerns about reprisals. Iran has been condemned for detaining foreign citizens to gain political leverage.
Noury can appeal the verdict. If he is released, he will be expelled from Sweden.
Some information for this report came from Reuters, Agence France-Presse and The Associated Press.