Day 1 : Opening of the case

10 August 2021: On 9 November 2019, Hamid Noury, an Iranian national was arrested by the Swedish police upon arrival in Sweden at Arlanda airport on the suspension of his involvement in the 1988 prison massacres in Iran when thousands of political prisoners were summarily executed and forcibly disappeared in unmarked and mass graves across the country (see: PainScapes).

On 13 November 2019, the Stockholm District Court made a decision to detain Hamid Noury for suspected of crime in Iran against international law, gross crime, and murder during the period of 28 July – 31 August 1988 in Teheran, Iran. The decision had been extended on a monthly basis.

On 27 July 2021, the Swedish public prosecution team led by Kristina Lindhoff Carleson issued an indictment charging Hamid Noory for war crimes and murder committed during the 1988 prison massacres.

According to the indictment, at the time of these mass executions the accused held the position of assistant to the deputy prosecutor (dadyar) at Gohardasht prison. He is suspected of participating in the mass executions and, as such, intentionally murdering a large number of prisoners who sympathised with the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) as well as those who sympathised with other left wing political organisations and were regarded as apostates. It classifies the conflict between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the PMOI as an international armed conflict and thus, the execution and torture of the organisation’s prisoners as war crimes. In the absence of an armed conflict between the leftist organisation and Iran, the execution of their sympathisers are considered murder according to the indictment.

On August 10th, 2021, the Stockholm District Court began the trial under the case number B15255-19 and Nouri faced the Swedish prosecutors. With Noury denying all charges as expected, the judge allowed the prosecution to present their arguments, which were a series of chapters explaining the facts of the situation. For the first time in 33 years, the names of dozens of victims were recited for the first time in such an official setting, while the families and friends of victims gathered outside the courtroom.

 

On the first day of the trial, the prosecution began laying out their strategies. The prosecution has claimed that Noury aided in bringing selected inmates to the Death Committee and assisting them in the operations involved in the massacre, as the assistant to Naserian, the deputy of Gohardasht Prison.

Judge Tomas Zander is presiding over the case. A total of 29 individuals are listed as plaintiffs in relation to the charge of war crimes, with 23 of those being former prisoners at Gohardasht associated with the PMOI. An additional 6 are the relatives of the prisoners associated with the PMOI who were executed. The prosecution has listed 110 individuals associated with the PMOI who are known to have been executed at Gohardasht.

Seven are listed as plaintiffs in relation to the charge of murder, all being relatives of prisoners associated with the leftist political organisations in opposition of the regime who were executed at Gohardasht.  The prosecution has also listed the names of 26 individuals associated with such organisations who are known to have been executed at Gohardasht.

Several former prisoners who themselves were not subjected to torture (and as such are called as witnesses and not included as plaintiffs) will also be giving statements. The court will also hear from a range of Swedish, Iranian, and international experts on the political situation of Iran at the time, on the prisons massacre in the summer of 1988.

In the 1980s, the Iranian government began a campaign of eliminating all political opposition by arresting, killing and forcibly disappearing political activists and prisoners. Its peak was in the summer of 1988, when the ‘Death Committee,’ a panel of officials determining the fate of prisoners. The prisoners were asked if they were prepared to express repentance for their past political beliefs and activities and denounce their political groups in writing. Although the numbers are only estimates, it is undeniable that thousands were killed in the massacre, most buried in unmarked or mass graves. The families and friends of the victims have been persecuted and tormented for the past 33 years, being denied the right to mourn their loved ones.

Noury is the first alleged perpetrator of this atrocity that is being formally tried in a court of law. This trial may open the window for trying other perpetrators, including Iran’s current president, Ebrahim Raisi, a member of the Death Committee.

Hamid Noury will continue to face a trial that will likely last until April 2022. Justice for Iran will update as the trial continues.

 

More information in English

  1. Report 1: Historic Trial on 1988 Mass-Executions in Iran begins in Stockholm District Court, by Civil Rights Defenders

More information in Persian

  1. Part of the hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch: Parts one, two, three, four, five, and six)
  2. Report 1: Historic Trial on 1988 Mass-Executions in Iran begins in Stockholm District Court (by Civil Rights Defenders, Persian Translation by Iran Human Rights Documentation Center)
  3. The Indictment, Translated by Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

 

Day 2: Presenting the facts by prosecutors

11 August 2021: The prosecution’s presentation continued today. She read the fatwa (religious order or decree) issued by former Supreme Leader, Khomeini.  The prosecution continued by talking of the nature of the massacre, saying the trials that committed thousands to death were arbitrary – victims did not have access to lawyers, and they were not fair trials. The prosecutor concluded that due to the nature of these trials, all those involved in the 1988 massacre are accomplices to murder.

The prosecution described the torture that survivors have expressed, saying it was inhumane. The torture was sometimes extended to the point of near death in all prisons, including Gohardasht where Noury was involved. The prosecution concluded by reading out the names of the accomplices to the massacre, including that of Ebrahim Raisi, the current president of Iran.

 

 More information in Persian

  1. The hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch: Parts one,  two, and  three.
  2. Persian translation of the indictment by Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

Day 3 : Evidence of Noury’s relationship with Iran’s highest-ranking judiciary officials

12 August 2021: Continuing on from yesterday, the prosecution presented more facts about the massacre. They read from written documents, including memoirs written by the survivors. These documents detailed the Death Committee at Gohardasht Prison, the beginnings of the 1988 prisons massacre, and the role of the accused in it.

The names of the victims, specifically those who were killed in the first few days of the massacre, were read. The prosecutors stressed that the Death Committee only asked the prisoners questions about their ideologies at the trial, not about their alleged crimes. The proceeding was concluded with the prosecution presenting evidence obtained from Noury’s phone, confirming that he has a close relationship to the most high-ranking officials in the Islamic Republic judiciary.

From left to right: Pour-Mohammadi, Nayyeri, Eshraghi, and Raeisi

 

The ‘Death Committee’ consisted of high-ranking judicial and security officials formed according to  Khomeini’s fatwa in prisons across the country. According to numerous witnesses who survived the massacre, in Gohardahst prison the Death Committee’s members were as follows:

Hossein Ali Nayyeri (Head of the Disciplinary Court for Judges), Mostafa PourMohammadi (Advisor to the head of Judiciary and former Minister of Justice), Morteza Eshraghi (Senior Attorney at Law and a Member of Iran’s Bar Association), and Ebrahim Raisi (Iran’s current President and former Head of Judiciary).

More information in English

Report 2: First Week of Trial Concluded, by Civil Rights Defenders

More information in Persian

  1. The hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch: Prats one, two, and three.
  2. (Report 2: First Week of Trial Concluded, by Civil Rights Defenders, Persian Translation by Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

Day 4: The order that triggered it all

Picture of Khomeini's secret fatwa (religious order) ordering the execution of all prisoners who remained “steadfast” in their support for the PMOI

Picture of Khomeini’s secret fatwa (religious order) ordering the execution of all prisoners who remained “steadfast” in their support for the PMOI

17 August 2021: Continuing with the last three sessions, the prosecution presented more evidence relating to the 1988 massacre. The first part of the proceeding today was spent reading excerpts from Montazeri’s memoir. Montazeri, who was Iran’s deputy leader at the time, was against the mass executions. Both his memoir and the tape recording that was later leaked in 2016 confirm that a fatwa was issued by Khomeini and this massacre did indeed take place.

The prosecutors proceeded to present evidence from the second wave of executions in late August 1988, which mostly consisted of eliminating leftist prisoners. It was demonstrated that these individuals were routinely asked about their religious beliefs by the Death Committee and non-believers were tortured until they repented or were executed. The prosecutors described how these victims were often whipped five times a day, the same number of times Muslims are supposed to pray, until they submitted to prayer.

Finally, the prosecution spoke about the judgements of Iran Tribunal which took place in 2012. The tribunal ruled that the 1988 massacre amounted to crimes against humanity.

More information in English

Report 3: The Prosecution’s Opening Presentation pt. 1, by Civil Rights Defenders

Report 4: The Prosecution’s Opening Presentation pt. 2, by Civil Rights Defenders

More information in Persian

  1. The hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch: Part one, Part two
  2. Report 3: The Prosecution’s Opening Presentation pt. 1 (by Civil Rights Defenders, Persian Translation by Iran Human Rights Documentation Center)
  3. Report 4: The Prosecution’s Opening Presentation pt. 2 (by Civil Rights Defenders, Persian Translation by Iran Human Rights Documentation Center)

Day 5: Denial

20 August 2021: It was the defence’s turn to present their strategy today. They challenged the evidence submitted by the prosecution, such as the judgement of People’ International Court of Iran Tribunal, the fatwa and the then deputy leader, Montazeri’s memoir. The defence team claimed that because Iranian authorities did not testify at Iran Tribunal, its findings are not fair to use as evidence. Note that the alleged perpetrators were formally invited to defend themselves but refused to do so.

They challenged the fatwa by claiming that it does not have a date. They also went on to speak about the discrepancies between the original fatwa and evidence presented at Iran Tribunal, such as Ebrahim Raisi’s name being mentioned.

The defence seems to have relied on the crutch of minute discrepancies between any evidence presented. This also included the differences between Montazeri’s memoirs and the audio file published in 2016 from a meeting he held in 1988 with senior judges and judiciary officials involved in the mass executions, now known as the Death Committee.

They then moved on to denying that Noury had ever worked at Gohardasht Prison in any position at the time of the massacre. They claimed that he had worked in admin at Evin Prison and had only visited Gohardasht, Ghezelhesar and Ghasr prisons on a few occasions. Furthermore, the defence alleged that Noury was on leave from 29th July 1988 when his daughter was born and was thus unaware of any massacre.

Moving onto the charge of war crime, the defence argued that the PMOI attack that occurred on the 26th of July 1988 was not part of the Iran-Iraq war and was hence not an international armed conflict. They also stated that it was not a non-international conflict as it did not meet the criteria defined by the law of war. They also mentioned that the PMOI were financially and operationally independent from the Iraqi government; they only needed permission to use their land for their bases.

The defence referred to the Amnesty International report, ‘Blood-Soaked Secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 prison massacres are ongoing crimes against humanity’ to add that the massacre had been planned for months in advance of the PMOI attack, and thus the massacre and the conflict were unrelated.

 

Lastly, the defence provided evidence of Facebook posts, videos and interviews done by those involved in Noury’s arrest (i.e. some plaintiffs and witnesses), saying that their defendant’s name and image were shared and publicised before the police had begun its investigation.

In today’s session, the victims’ lawyers briefly introduced the main points of their opening presentation, including the Iranian laws based on which they are going to claim compensations.

Then, Kenneth Lewis, the lawyer who has been privately appointed by three plaintiffs, stated that his clients’ differing opinion from the prosecution about the armed conflict between the Islamic Republic and the PMOI was not of an international nature, but it was non-international.

He stated that the PMOI had not received financial and armament support from the Iraqi government as confirmed by the ICRC reports. He then followed by arguing that the massacre should be considered genocide as the executions were based on the ground of religion, not only for the leftist prisoners but also for the PMOI.

 

More information in English

Report 5: The Defense’s Opening Presentation, by Civil Rights Defenders

Report 6: Opening Presentation by the Victim Counsels, by Civil Rights Defenders

More information in Persian

1- The hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch.

2- Report 5: The Defense’s Opening Presentation (by Civil Rights Defenders, Persian Translation by Iran Human Rights Documentation Center)

 

Day 6: The first witness is heard

Judge Mohammad Moghiseh, known as Naserian, Assistant Prosecutor Supervising Gohardasht Prison at the time of massacre

23 August 2021: Today, the defence wrapped up their arguments by pointing to a discrepancy found in the prison memoirs. They criticised the methodology of the lists of victims that the survivors had compiled, due to inconsistencies in names, ages and other fine details.

The first witness and plaintiff was called today. Iraj Mesdaghi was questioned by the prosecutor on his time in prison as a follower of the PMOI, meeting Noury at Gohardasht and details about the prison. The witness emphasised the importance of Noury’s role as the assistant to Naserian (Mohammad Moghiseh) who is now a judge on the Revolutionary Court and sanctioned by the US and EU for his role in human rights abuses. ) To know more about Mohammad Moghiseh, see his profile at the Faces of Crime Database.)

The prosecutor asked Mesdaghi about the maps of Gohardasht Prison in his book. He confirmed that all the maps were drawn by him and he was only assisted by a friend who knew AutoCAD to make them look professional. A large part of the hearing today was spent on the details of Gohardsaht prison, where the wards, the death corridor and other sections were in the maps drawn by the witness which is a part of the prosecution’s evidence.

More information in Persian

The hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch

Day 7: Noury’s role in selecting prisoner’s for the Death Committee

25 August 2021: The first witness and plaintiff examination continued today with Iraj Mesdaghi who was asked about the massacre at Gohardasht Prison and those who were taken to the Death Committee and did not return.

The witness revealed that the Death Committee punished Mojtaba Akhgar, a prisoner at Gohardasht, with 100 lashes. Noury had volunteered to execute the order and delivered the punishment. The witness also testified about his encounter with the Death Committee and how Noury was involved in selecting prisoners who were brought before the Death Committee.

More information in Persian:

The hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch: Part one, Part two, Part three.

The VOA interview with Mojtaba Akhgar

Day 8: More evidence of the massacre’s victims

26 August 2021: The session was a continuation of Iraj Mesdaghi’s examination. The witness spoke about the victims of the massacre at Gohardasht Prison. He was asked how he had made the list of victims. He replied that it was compiled by other prisoners and has been corrected as new information has come to light.

On the question of why the witness had posted photos of the accused on his Facebook prior to the investigation, he answered that he wanted others who had been affected to come forward

More information in Persian

The hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch: Parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven.

Day 9: The Gas Chamber

1 September 2021: This was the cross-examination for Iraj Mesdaghi, witness and plaintiff, followed by questions from the prosecutor and his lawyer.

The defence referred to a part in the witness testimony about seeing Noury for the 1st time in Gohardasht Prison in 1987, torturing prisoners by placing 40-50 of them in a closed room coined the ‘gas chamber’ with no fresh air until they almost suffocated. The lawyer questioned the witness on the date and whereabouts of this event. He replied that this had occurred 33 years ago, while he was under continuous torture and thus could not remember the details. He said he was a prisoner seeing this from under a blindfold, not a tourist. They then asked where Noury had been standing when he and others had beat the prisoners before having them taken into the ‘gas chamber’. The witness repeated that this was 33 years ago, and he had been tortured so frequently that he cannot remember the details of each incident.

The defence pointed to a few discrepancies between the witness statement and his memoir of the events, as well as the examination in court last week. Their strategy was to show that he had not mentioned Noury in his books but is now attributing some incidents to him after the fact. They stated what he had written about prisoners being questioned about participating in the March 1988 parliamentary election and asked why the witness had swapped Lashkari with Noury in his testimonies.

Another issue raised by the defence was the witness mentioning the names of Naserian and Lashkari in his book as those responsible for classifying prisoners prior to the massacre but in his testimonies after Noury’s arrest, he claimed that Noury was also involved in this. The defence spoke on acts attributed to Naserian in the book which were then changed to Noury in interrogations and court. One was the events leading up to Nasser Mansouri’s execution, a disabled prisoner taken from the prison clinic before the Death Committee on a stretcher.

The witness refused to recognise the discrepancies and explained that he had only named prominent perpetrators in his book, including Naserian, the Deputy Prosecutor and Lashkari, the head of security. Noury was only the assistant to Naserian but used to accompany him everywhere. He said that the reason that Naserian has a significant place in his books is that he is currently a high-ranking judge in the Revolutionary Court and has been sentencing civil and political activists to death or long-term imprisonment in recent years.

The defence retorted by stating that the witness had mentioned Noury at other points in his book. They also referred to differences between his book and books written by other witnesses about the dates of the massacre at Gohardasht and the names of the victims. He replied by saying that he is only responsible for his own work, not that of others and believes it is accurate. He explained that despite knowing English he does not take responsibility for the translation of his book on the 1988 massacre as it is the work of a translator.

The defence tried to question him on the map of the prison by asking about the lengths of rooms and dimensions of corridors. The witness said he had not memorised them because he thought they lacked importance – he had only remembered details such as the Death Committee’s room and its members.

To end the cross-examination, the defence asked about the photo of Noury posted by Mesdaghi on Facebook. He said he had obtained it from Noury’s stepdaughter’s ex-husband. He confirmed that the police had asked the witness not to distribute the photos, on November 14th, 2019.

Lastly, the prosecution asked the purpose behind posting such photos. The witness replied that he had wanted other potential witnesses all over the world to be notified and come forward.

More information in Persian

A part of the hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch

The full transcription of Iraj Mesdaghi’s testimonies

Day 10: Examination of the second witness and the Death Corridor

2 September 2021: Witness examinations continued today with Nasrollah Marandi who now lives in Sweden. He was arrested in 1982 due to his political activities as a sympathiser of the PMOI and was sentenced to 15 years in prison after a trial in the Revolutionary Court that lasted at most 10 minutes.

Nasrollah Marandi

The witness said that on August 1st, 1988, he and other prisoners were taken away from the ward by Naserian and Noury. They asked them about the reason for their conviction, and if they want to be amnestied. They then divided them into different cells. He was taken into the large corridor of Gohardasht prison, which prisoners had dubbed “the Death Corridor”, on August 3rd, 1988. He saw Noury there. He was then taken to the Death Committee by Naserian. Marandi said that afternoon, when he was still being held in the Death Corridor, Noury read the name of 15 prisoners and ordered the guard to take them to the end of the corridor. The witness named 5 who were known to him, and those 5 never came back. They were all executed.

The prosecutor asked the witness how he was sure it was Hamid Noury as he was blindfolded, and he said that he had known him since the spring of 1987, that Noury had beaten him several times and he was able to distinguish his voice very well.

He was asked if he was tortured in the ‘Gas Chamber’. He said yes and explained that Naserian and Noury ordered the guards to make a tunnel where the prisoners passed through and were beaten by cables and sticks. They were placed in a room with no fresh air until the point of near suffocation.

The witness mentioned that he saw Noury a few years after the massacre after his release entering the Revolutionary Prosecution Office. The witness noticed that Noury had not needed to register his details before entering and assumed that he was working there. Marandi was asked about a conference held by the PMOI in Stockholm in 2011 about the prisons massacre where he mentioned the name of Hamid Noury and when he became aware of Hamid Abbasi’s real name. He said he did not remember exactly when and how.

More information in Persian

The hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch: Parts one, two, three, four.

 

Day 11: The third witness is heard

3 September 2021: The third witness and plaintiff was heard today. Mahdi Barjasteh Garmaroudi is based in Switzerland, having spent ten years in different prisons in the 1980s for being a sympathizer of the PMOI. He was transferred to Gohardasht Prison six months prior to the massacre. He encountered Noury a few times, one of which was in close proximity and without a blindfold.

He told the court that Naserian and Abbasi (Noury) came to the ward asking who is interested in working in the prison [for free]. He and 22 others refused to participate in the program. Naserian assigned Noury to make a list and they were taken to solitary confinement.

The method of whipping political prisoners in the 1980s

The witness confirmed that Noury was assistant to Naserian who was the most important person at Gohardasht prison. He said that families went to Noury to ask for furlough. Completing his testimony about Noury’s role in Gohardasht, the witness also said that Noury accompanied Naserian everywhere but always two-three steps behind him due to Naserian’s superiority, writing his orders in a notebook. He explained his 2 encounters with the Death Committee in August & September and how he accepted to write a letter of repentance in order to save himself from execution. In addition to those already mentioned by other witnesses he saw Esmaeil Shoushtari in the Death Committee.

The witness recalled sitting in the Death Corridor once. Naserian had called Noury and given him a list of prisoners and ordered him to take them where they were executing prisoners. He said that he could see a blurred image of what was going on through a scarf he used instead of a blindfold.

After being examined, the witness’s lawyer asked about the impact of torture after 10 years in prison. Barjasteh said that because he had been whipped by cables so many times, he can no longer wear shoes. He then apologised to the court for coming in with slippers. He said he takes 14 pills a day for both the physical and mental effects of torture. Elaborating his mental health situation, he said he is under the care of a psychiatrist and sometimes has to spend a week in hospital. He still screams when he sleeps.

Then, the cross examination began. The accused’s lawyer tried to challenge the witness by referring to the discrepancies they had found in the details such as dates, names, places in the statement made to the police and today’s testimony. The defence asked if Barjasteh was under the influence of the testimonies of the two witnesses who testified before him. He denied such influences and said that he cannot remember what exactly he had said to the police in December 2019.

He also said if there are some differences between details, it is because 33 years has passed. He then added that what is important is that he is 100% certain the person in the dock is the same person who was in Gohardasht during the massacre.

More information in Persian

The hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch: Parts one, two, three.

Day 12: Noury’s role in obtaining video confessions of released prisoners revealed

6 September 2021: Today’s trial was spent hearing the plaintiff/witness, Homayoun Kaviani. He was 17 at his arrest in 1981 as a sympathizer of the PMOI and spent 10 years in several prisons. He was at Gohardasht at the time of massacre in 1988. He studied economics and now lives in Switzerland.

He first saw Noury when he and others were punished for exercising together. He stated that he was tortured three times including being severely beaten and placed in a hot, contained room that was only opened when the prisoners were almost suffocating.  The witness said Noury spoke to him face to face twice to ask his name, his charge and why he partook in collective exercise. He recalled answering that the prison yard is too small and there are too many prisoners, and everything they did would seem collective.

He said that Naserian, the main Deputy Prosecutor (dadyar), told the prisoners that Brother Abbasi (Noury’s pseudonym) was his right hand: “When I’m not here tell him if you have any issues.”

Kaviani said he was taken to the Death Committee by Noury himself. The Committee urged him to fill a letter of repent and while sitting outside the room, he heard Noury ordering a guard to take some prisoners out. He thought they were taken to the ward but later found out that ‘out’ meant execution.

The witness also talked about his encounter with the accused after the massacre, when the prisoners were transferred from Gohardasht to Evin. He said that in Evin Prison, he had to see and ask Noury to give him furlough to visit his dying mother in hospital.

He also saw Noury again a few months after he was released. In around November 1991, he was summoned to Evin prison and when he arrived there, he and a few other former prisoners were blindfolded and taken to a big hall where Noury was sitting and setting up a camera.  Then, Noury videoed each of them saying their names, condemning the political organisations they had belonged to and making a statement saying that should they ever engage in any political activities, they will be sentenced to the highest punishment, implied death penalty.

After the Prosecutor finished, the witness’s lawyers asked him how he had felt when he heard about Noury and saw his photos. He said he was thinking about the torture he had experienced, the friends he had lost and the suffering their families are still enduring.  He said that after he was released, he went to the houses of his friends’ families. When he visited Ramin Ghasemi, one of his friends who was executed after release, they painted the entire house apart from a part of the wall where ink had been splashed by Ramin while filling his pen.

The defence tried challenging him about the discrepancies between the details he told in the police interrogation in December 2019 and the hearing today.

 

More information in Persian

The hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch: Parts one, two.

Day 13: It’s been 33 years since I last lived; the time just passes

8 September 2021: Today, the Stockholm District Court heard the plaintiff and witness, Siamak Naderi. Born in 1960, Siamak Naderi was arrested in September 1981 for sympathizing with the PMOI and was released a few months after the 1988 massacre.

Siamak Naderi

He stated how Hamid Noury ordered and personally participated in torturing him in the Autumn of 1987 at Gohardasht prison only for leading the collective exercise. He was beaten by six people, including Noury, for several hours while he kept telling him: I am going to beat you in a way that you can say goodbye to exercise forever!

He recalled that as a result of the torture he could not walk for two months and his cellmates lifted him when he needed to use the bathroom.

He also remembered that Noury and Lashkari took the prisoners from their room and on Saturday, the mass executions began. At the beginning there were 53 prisoners; on Wednesday, when he was taken before the Committee, they were only 5-6 people left. He said that under enormous pressure before the Death Committee, he accepted condoning his political organisation and their attack on Iran and that was why he survived the massacre. He could distinguish Noury’s voice while he went around bringing prisoners to Naserian who took them to the Committee.

In responding to the prosecutor’s question, Siamak Naderi explained how from a narrow hole in the window of their room, he saw a refrigerator truck in the yard of the prison, several tarpaulin bags, presumably containing the bodies of executed prisoners, and a guard (Pasdar) who were moving some of the bags.

In response to his lawyer’s questions about the psychological impact of what happened to him in prison, while crying, he said that those executed were his very dear friends and 33 years after the massacre, he has not yet lived but the time has just passed. He said that since the trial began, he has not been able to sleep, and has had nightmares most nights.

Noury’s lawyer started the cross-examination by confirming that the witness saw the accused’s photos on Facebook before being interrogated by the police in late November 2019. They also noted that Naderi pointed to more than one photo when the police showed him nine photos asking if he knew any of them and if any of them could be Hamid Noury.

The cross-examination of the witness will continue tomorrow.

More information in Persian

The hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch: Parts one, two.

Day 14: Noury spotted suppressing 1999 protests with plain clothes forces

9 September 2021: Day 14 of Hamid Noury’s trial picked up where it left off yesterday: witness and plaintiff Siamak Naderi was questioned by the accused’s lawyers. Like other cross examinations, a large part of the session was spent on the discrepancies between what was said to the police and what was said at court.

The defence also challenged the witness on how he could be certain that in the tarpaulin bags he saw by the refrigerator truck in the yard of the prison were the bodies of executed prisoners. The witness replied that he did not see the bodies inside the bags.

At the end, Siamak Naderi used the opportunity to note that due to the time constraint, he could not elaborate on three more incidents of being tortured by Noury.

Further, the testimony of the next witness and plaintiff, Mohsen Eshaqi, began. Currently living in Germany, alongside with his two brothers, he was in Gohardasht prison at the time of the 1988 prison massacre. He was arrested in 1982 and charged with being a sympathiser of the PMOI, in opposition to the regime, and participation in demonstrations.

The witness described how in preparation for the massacre, the prison authorities separated prisoners who had lived together for a long time, moving them to different wards, making the baseless excuse of issues with the drains.

Another memory he recalled from before the massacre was that he saw on the TV that President Khamenei who is now the Supreme Leader announced that the political prisoners had rioted in some prisons and set them on fire. Eshaqi said he had told his fellow inmates that they would kill them all.

The prosecutor asked the witness about the positions of different prison authorities including Noury. He said the prisoners knew him as dadyar in charge of judicial affairs. He also counted prisoners every night. The witness saw him twice or three times without a blindfold.

Eshaqi also confirmed that the accused took the prisoners to the Death Corridor.

Eshaqi saw the accused in 1991 at Evin prison where the witness worked as a technician. He said that Noury’s office was on the floor above where he worked. The witness also saw the accused and Majid Qodusi, an employee of the Revolutionary Court, among the plain clothes forces brutally suppressing the 1999 student protests.

 More information in Persian

The hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch: Parts one, two, three.

Day 15: Pastries at the sight of execution

14 August 2021: On day 15 of Hamid Noury’s trial, the court heard Ramazan Fathi, who was arrested in 1981 on charges of supporting the PMOI. He was transferred from Evin to Gohardasht Prison in 1985. He was at this prison at the time of the 1988 massacre.

In addition to his role in the 1988 massacre in Gohardasht Prison, Fathi said that Noury was also involved in executing political dissidents at Evin Prison in 1980s. He said that Hamid Noury, then known as Hamid Abbasi, was seen in the execution room at Evin Prison.

He described the beginning of the mass executions in Gohardasht Prison as follows: “They came and separated ten people from our ward and took them to court. Hamid Noury oversaw the deputy prosecution office (dadyari) at the time. He questioned a group of prisoners before taking them to the Death Committee. “

 He referred to a window in the amphitheatre of Gohardasht Prison that faced the executioners building. Fathi said the prisoners had dug a hole under the window to see what was going on there. “We saw the corpses being lifted and thrown into the car,” Fathi said. “We counted up to 30 bodies.” Ramazan Fathi said the night after they went to the window again and saw that two trucks were carrying the bodies of the prisoners. Fathi says Noury was distributing candy during the executions.

He added that Hamid Noury took a group of prisoners to the amphitheatre of Gohardasht Prison for execution.

The prosecutor asked Mr Fathi how he could see that Noury was giving out pastries, as the Death Committee and prison guards celebrating the executions with a blindfold. Fathi responded that he could see as the corridor was crowded and the guards did not pay much attention.

Noury’s lawyers pointed out that that Ramazan Fathi’s testimonies in court are different from what he said during interrogations before the Swedish police. The lawyer further noted that the testimonies of Ramazan Fathi and Iraj Mossadaghi about the events of August 6th are different.

“Maybe Iraj heard these things incorrectly from someone else,” Ramazan Fathi replied.

 More information in Persian

The hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch: Parts one, two.

 

Day 16: How Noury’s identity was revealed while torturing prisoners

16th September 2021: Arrested in 1982 when he was still in high school and imprisoned for ten years, Mehdi Eshaqi testified in court about the accused’s role in the execution of political prisoners..  This witness was the first survivor who identified Hamid Abbasi as Hamid Noury.

Mehdi Eshaqi said that Hamid Noury was the second most influential person at Gohardasht after Naserian (Mohammad Moghiseh). He described an encounter with Noury there before the 1988 massacre: “The guards were taking me when I found out that two guards were beating Jafar, my uncle. I ran to my uncle and defended him. Then the guards beat me and took me before Hamid Noury. Noury slapped me and threatened me a lot.”

Khomeini’s funeral

Eshaqi, who had transferred to Evin prison after the massacre, explained the events that led to identifying Noury’s real name: “It was June 1989 in Evin prison after the death ofthe vampire executioner Khomeini…”  Hamid Noury cut the witness, stood up and said : “Do not insult the Imam!”

In response to this protest, the judge asked Mehdi Eshaqi to not use such words. Mehdi Eshaqi accepted and continued: “After the death of Khomeini, He then mentioned that the weather was so hot and Abbasi took off his jacket and threw it at his chair. His ID fell out and Eshaqi saw his real name on the card while being tortured.

 More information in Persian

The hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch: Parts one, two.

 

Day 17: May God forgive us; We Should Have Executed All of You

17th September 2021: Today’s session heard the plaintiff and witness, Ali Akbar Bandali.  He was arrest in 1982 as a sympathiser of the PMOI and spent 13 years in several prisons. He was at Gohardasht prison at the time of the 1988 massacre.

Ali Akbar Bandali said the massacre began on July 30th, 1988. Like other witnesses, he also talked about trucks carrying the bodies of the executed prisoners. He also elaborated that him and other prisoners saw these trucks from a gap they had made in the window of their room.

Although Ali Akbar Bandali was taken to the Death Committee on August 16th, 1988, He never faced them. Instead, he evaded execution after agreeing to condemn the PMOI in an interview. The interview was never conducted.

The witness testified about how he knew what Hamid Noury looked like, explaining that the accused worked in the office of the deputy prosecutor (dadyari), and how he had personally harassed and tortured him.

Bandali said that Noury was the second most important person in Gohardasht after Naserian and above Lashkari. He recalled one day after the massacre when Hamdi Noury came to their ward and said,“may God forgive us that we could not execute [Imam] Khomeini’s order. We should have executed all of you.”

There was a row between the witness and the accused when Bandali called Khomeini the cunning devil and Noury made an objection.

After that, his lawyer asked Bandali why he’s certain this Hamid Noury is the same person he saw in Gohardasht prison and he replied: his reaction [about Khomeini] that you just saw was the same as at Gohardasht prison.

 More information in Persian

The hearing sessions recorded and live broadcast by Iran Watch: Parts one, two.

Day 18: Hamid Noury took prisoners to the execution squad

20 September 2021: Two witnesses and plaintiffs were heard today. The court began the first cross-examination of Nasrollah Marandi, a witness from the tenth day of trial. As usual, the defense went through some discrepancies about the details mentioned by Mardani in the police investigation and in the court, what he had witnessed himself and what he had heard from others. Marandi was also given a time to present his own maps from Gohardasht prison and the Death Corridor.

Subsequently, the plaintiff and witness Massoud Ashraf Semnani testified. An engineering student, arrested in 1983 on charges of supporting the PMOI and sentenced to seven years, he currently resides in Sweden and is a Swedish national.

Massoud Ashraf Semnani

Semnani was transferred from Evin Prison to Gohardasht Prison in February 1987  and was there through the duration of the 1988 massacre. Before his testimony, his lawyer stated that his client still suffers from the torture and is in the care of mental health professional.

He explained his two encounters with the Death Committee and wrote a letter of repentance to save himself from execution. He added that when he took off his blindfold to write the repent letter, he could see that the accused was taking the prisoners to the execution squad. In addition to those already mentioned by other witnesses, he saw Hossein Ali Nayyeri, Morteza Eshragi, and Esmaeil Shoushtari on the Death Committee. From beneath of the blindfold, he also saw a guard having a small bag in hands containing watches, rings and folded papers and that was why he found out that the prisoners are being executed.

According to Semnani, Noury had a significant role in obtaining forced confessions from prisoners before and after the 1988 massacre. He explained that after he was released, the authorities summoned him to Evin Prison. At Evin, Hamid Noury himself obtained the forced confessions. His testimony will continue on 23th September.

 More information in Persian

The hearing sessions were recorded and broadcast live by Iran Watch: Parts one, two.

Other useful sources

The Indictment in Swedish

Iran: First Trial for 1988 Massacres Opens in Stockholm, by Lena Bjurström, for Justiceinfo.net

Iranian Crimes, Swedish Justice with Aida Samani and Gissou Nia (by Asymmetrical Haircuts)