STOCKHOLM: The trial of an Iranian citizen accused of committing grave war crimes and murder during the final phase of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s started Tuesday in Stockholm.
The trial of Hamid Noury comes just days after hard-line Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took office as the highest-ranking civilian leader in the Islamic Republic.
Raisi himself took part as a prosecutor in the so-called "death commission" that executed as many as 5,000 people at the end of Iran's bloody war with Iraq in 1988, complicating how the West will interact with him as negotiators try to save Tehran's tattered nuclear deal with world powers.
According to Swedish prosecutors, Noury worked in July-August 1988 as an assistant to the deputy prosecutor in the Gohardasht prison outside the Iranian city of Karaj, and allegedly took part in severe atrocities there.
They said Iran's then supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued an order for the execution of all prisoners in Iranian prisons who sympathised and remained loyal with the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, known as MEK.
Due to that order, a large number of prisoners were executed in the Gohardasht prison between July 30 and Aug. 16, 1988, the prosecutors in Sweden said.
"Along with other perpetrators in the prison, (Noury) participated in mass executions and is suspected of having intentionally deprived the lives of a very large number of prisoners who sympathised with the Mujahedeen."
As for the murder charge, Swedish prosecutors said Noury is suspected of "intentionally killing, together with other perpetrators, a large number of prisoners who sympathised with various left-wing groups and who were regarded as apostates."
Under the Swedish Penal Code, these are not considered to be related to an armed conflict and so the charge is different, the prosecution said.
A large number of these prisoners were executed between August 27 and September 6, 1988, in the Gohardasht prison.
Hamid was arrested in November 2019 when he arrived in Stockholm, the Swedish capital, and has been held in custody since then.