An assistant public prosecutor who reportedly played a key part in the mass execution of political prisoners in Iran in 1988 has been arrested in Sweden prosecutors announced on Wednesday, November 13.
Hamid Nouri who was arrested November 9 was reportedly a member of the execution committee at the notorious Gohardasht Prison near Tehran at the time.
Witnesses told Persian-language media in Europe that as assistant public prosecutor Mr. Nouri played a key part in the execution of thousands of leftist prisoners and members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq organization Mek in 1988.
Oxford based Iranian lawyer Kaveh Mousavi who is also a plaintiff in the case told Radio Farda that he has asked the Swedish prosecutor to keep Nouri in custody for at least a year, while others prepare evidence for his trial.
The Court in Stockholm has given a month to complainants to present their evidence while Mr. Nouri is in jail in Sweden.
According to Mousavi, Hamid Nouri was the assistant public prosecutor in two Iranian prisons, Evin and Gohardasht. He said Nouri has been arrested based on evidence presented by former political prisoner Iraj Mesdaghi who has extensively written on the case since 1988.
Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, tweeted, "Important first step towards justice for the 1988 massacre #Iran: This would be the very first time that someone is charged in relation to the events that took place in 1988 in Iran, during which thousands of detainees were killed".
Mesdaghi told Radio Farda that Nouri was an assistant to famous Judge Moghiseh and played a key part in the mass executions. Meanwhile Mesdaghi said that he will provide further details to the court about Nouri and will introduce several witnesses from all over the world who would testify against Nouri.
Wednesday afternoon, a few former political prisoners took part in interviews with Persian-speaking television channels in London and said Nouri was involved in their torture and trial.
In the same program Mr. Mousavi accused Nouri of torture, execution, and secret burial of the victims and not letting their families know about their burial place.
According to Iraj Mesdaghi, at the court session on Wednesday Nouri denied having any position at Iranian prisons at the time.
The Islamic Republic of Iran never presented an accurate figure about the number of those who were executed in 1988, but several members of the Death Committee including former Deputy Intelligence Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi have acknowledged that they were involved in the executions.
Political activists say at least five thousand leftist prisoners were executed in Iranian prisons in 1988.
During recent years, a number of mass graves have been unearthed in various parts of Iran which date back to the time of the execution.
In an audio file published in 2016, former Deputy Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Montazeri is heard warning members of the Death Committee, including Pourmohammadi, religious judge Hossein Ali Nayeri and then Prosecutor Morteza Eshraqi that what they were doing was genocide and a crime against humanity.
Ebrahim Raeesi, who is currently Iran's Judiciary Chief was also a member of the Death Committee.
Iran's Leader at the time, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeyni ordered the massacre as Iranian prisons were filled with prisoners following a Mojahedin military onslaught at the end of the Iran-Iraq war.