Swedish court verdict in Iran prison executions trial due Thursday

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A Swedish court on Thursday will deliver its verdict in the high-profile trial of a former Iranian official accused of taking part in the mass execution and torture of political prisoners in the 1980s.

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Hamid Noury, who was arrested at a Stockholm airport in 2019, is charged with war crimes for the mass execution and torture of political prisoners at the Gohardasht prison in Karaj, Iran, in 1988.

Amnesty International has put the number executed on government orders at around 5,000, saying in a 2018 report that “the real number could be higher.” Iran has never acknowledged the killings.

Noury, who denies the charges, is the only person so far to face trial over the purge that targeted members of the Iranian People’s Mujahideen, which was fighting in parts of Iran, as well as other political dissidents.

Noury faces a maximum life sentence if found guilty. His lawyer was not immediately available for a comment.

The trial has focused unwelcome attention on Iran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi, who is under US sanctions over a past that includes what Washington and activists say was his involvement as one of four judges who oversaw the 1988 killings.

Raisi, when asked about the allegations, told reporters after his election in 2021 that he had defended national security and human rights.

The case has soured relations between the two countries with Iran calling the trial “illegal.”

“Sweden should provide the grounds for the release of Noury as soon as possible,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani told a news conference on Wednesday.

Under Swedish law, courts can try Swedish citizens and other nationals for crimes against international law committed abroad.

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