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