Iranian ex-official’s warcrimes trial moves to Albania

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The trial in Sweden of a former Iranian prison official, accused of handing out death sentences as part of a 1988 purge of dissidents, will relocate to Albania on Wednesday to hear two weeks of testimony.

Hamid Noury, 60, has been on trial in Stockholm’s district court since August on a slew of charges including murder, crimes against humanity and war crimes, dating from July 30 to August 16, 1988, when Noury was allegedly assistant to the deputy prosecutor of Gohardasht prison in Karaj, near Tehran.

The entire Stockholm district court is relocating to Durres, Albania, at the prosecution’s request, to hear testimony from November 10 to 18 from seven witnesses “who are unable to travel to Sweden,” court clerk Anna Wester told AFP.

The seven are members of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK, the exiled opposition group, who reside in a camp near Durres.

Noury himself will however remain in Stockholm, Wester said.

He has been held in custody since November 2019, when he arrived in Sweden where he has family members.

He had been lured to the Scandinavian country by justice campaigner and former political prisoner Iraj Mesdaghi with the promise of a luxury cruise.

Human rights groups have estimated that 5,000 prisoners were killed across Iran, allegedly under the orders of supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini in reprisal for attacks carried out by the MEK at the end of the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88.

While not accused of directly carrying out any of the killings, the prosecution has alleged that Noury’s participation included handing down death sentences, bringing prisoners to the execution chamber and helping prosecutors gather prisoners’ names.

Noury has refuted the charges against him. He is due to testify in Stockholm as of November 23.

Sweden’s principle of universal jurisdiction means that its courts can try a person on serious charges such as murder or war crimes regardless of where the alleged offences took place.

A verdict in the case is expected in April 2022.