The National - News

Iranian accused in 1988 jail massacre case to give evidence

- PAUL PEACHEY

A lowly clerk facing war crimes charges at a landmark trial in Sweden is expected to give evidence today about the massacre of prisoners in 1988 that allegedly implicates Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi.

Hamid Nouri, 60, is scheduled to start at least three days of evidence at the trial, which for more than three months has heard graphic testimony from victims about mass hangings and torture. Lawyers for Mr Nouri, the former assistant to the deputy prosecutor at Gohardasht prison, near Tehran, have indicated he will claim he was not working there at the time of the killings.

During the trial, former prisoners have said Mr Nouri organised mass hangings of regime dissidents at the jail.

The primary targets of the regime were members of Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or People’s Mujahideen of Iran, who supported the country’s 1979 revolution but turned against the new leadership and fought for Iraq during the 1980-1988 war.

The killings were ordered by supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini days after the conflict ended.

Rights groups say about 5,000 prisoners were killed in Iran, but the opposition says the figure was six times as high.

Witnesses said Mr Nouri, who is accused of more than 100 murders, helped a fourman “death committee” at the jail, in Karaj, which included a young prosecutor, Ebrahim Raisi.

When he was asked about the massacres after his election this year, Mr Raisi said a prosecutor “should be praised” for defending the “security of the people”.

Saheb Jam, a former inmate at Gohardasht jail, said he watched Mr Nouri call out the names of inmates to be taken for execution.

He “held a box of pastries and offered sweets to prison guards as they passed by”, he told the court. “They were celebratin­g the executions with sweets.”

Kenneth Lewis, a lawyer representi­ng victims in the court, said: “The defence has asked for four days for the interrogat­ion of Hamid Nouri, so he plans to talk. We still have no clear idea what he wants to talk about because he claims he wasn’t present at Gohardasht at the time of the massacres.”

The hearings have returned to Stockholm after the court decamped to Durres, Albania, to hear evidence from seven witnesses unable to travel to Sweden.

One witness, Mohammad Zand, told the court last week that he had seen Mr Nouri taking people to be executed.

 ?? AFP ?? A member of Mujahideen-e Khalq visits a memorial in Manza, Albania, to thousands of prisoners who were executed by the Iranian regime after the war with Iraq
AFP A member of Mujahideen-e Khalq visits a memorial in Manza, Albania, to thousands of prisoners who were executed by the Iranian regime after the war with Iraq

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