Iran summons Swedish chargé d’affaires after Iranian sentenced to life imprisonment for 1988 massacres

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hosein Amirabdolahian – -/Russian Foreign Ministry/dpa

The Iranian government has summoned Sweden’s chargé d’affaires in Tehran on Friday to protest against the life sentence imposed by a Swedish court on a former Iranian official for his role in the mass execution and torture of opponents in 1988 in a prison in the city of Karaj.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on its website that it has submitted «an official note of protest» and expressed «strong objections» to the statements made by the Swedish court in the case, while pointing out that the sentence is «illegal» and «contrary to the standards of international law».

Thus, he stressed that the Swedish court «has no jurisdiction» to judge the case and stated that it «violated the principles of sovereignty and independence», before underlining that the accusations derive from «false testimonies» by «elements of terrorist groups whose hands are stained with the blood of more than 17,000 innocent Iranians».

In this way, he said that the Swedish court has «whitewashed terrorists» and pointed out that «it has acted against Sweden’s international obligations in the field of a non-selective fight against terrorism», for which he asked that the conviction be «overturned» and that the man, identified as Hamid Nuri, be released «immediately» and «compensated for damages».

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Naser Kanani had already criticized the ruling late on Thursday, when he stressed that the trial has been based on «baseless and fabricated accusations against Iran and the country’s judicial system.» «It is clear to Iran that Nuri’s case was just an excuse for a political action with no legal validity,» he said.

Kanani further denounced that the man was arrested «in a deceptive scenario pre-planned by elements of a terrorist group» and has pointed out that Nuri «has been detained for 30 months in solitary confinement, being deprived of his most basic Human Rights and subjected to systematic ill-treatment, including beatings by prison guards.»

«Unfortunately, the Swedish judicial authorities, despite their claims of independence, gave space to the hypocritical terrorist group – referring to the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) – and did not allow Nuri to present witnesses to defend himself,» he reiterated.

Nuri was arrested in the European country in November 2019, after which a trial was opened against him in 2021 for his role in the killing of thousands of people. The purge focused on members of the PMOI, although numerous members of leftist and opposition parties such as the communist-leaning Tudé were also executed.

Iran’s current president, Ebrahim Raisi, was heavily criticized during the 2021 election campaign for his role as one of the four judges who oversaw the execution orders, although he rejected the allegations and said he was merely defending national security.

The executions were carried out following a secret edict issued by the then-great leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, after an armed incursion into Iran by the PMOI, an Iraq-based opposition group outlawed by Iranian authorities, according to the report published by Amnesty in 2018.

Khomeini’s order came in the final stages of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), in which the PMOI, which actively participated in the revolution that overthrew Shah Reza Pahlevi with an Islamist discourse mixed with an adaptation of Marxist ideology, fought on the side of Saddam Hussein’s regime after denouncing the actions of the religious leadership installed by the ayatollahs.

The group was persecuted by the religious authorities in Iran, which led the then leader of the group, Masud Rajavi, to reach a pact with Hussein in 1986 in the middle of the war between the two, which led Iran’s supreme leader to order the execution of alleged members and sympathizers of the organization.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Javaid Rehman, welcomed the life sentence imposed and described the verdict as «a milestone and important step forward in the search for truth and justice for a dark chapter in Iranian history».

«I urge other states to undertake similar investigations and prosecutions for serious human rights violations in Iran using the principles of universal jurisdiction,» Rehman said.

«There is a serious gap in accountability for past and present gross violations of human rights, «and the domestic courts of other states have a critical role to play in filling that gap.»

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