| 4 February 2023, Saturday |

Trial starts in Sweden of man accused of role in Iran prison executions

On the first day of the trial of a 60-year-old Iranian citizen accused of war crimes and murder, over 100 people gathered outside a court in Stockholm to demonstrate against the Iranian dictatorship, according to Swedish news agency TT.

The guy, whose identity has been withheld by authorities, has been in custody in Sweden for almost two years and is accused of playing a key part in the 1988 execution of political inmates at the Gohardasht prison in Karaj, Iran, on government orders.

The accused man has denied the accusations, prosecutors said when announcing charges last month.

It is the first time anyone has been brought before a court to stand trial over the purge.

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

The trial is likely to focus unwelcome attention on Iran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi, who was officially inaugurated last week and who is under U.S. sanctions over a past that includes what the United States 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 June that he had defended national security and rights.

“If a judge, a prosecutor has defended the security of the people, he should be praised … I am proud to have defended human rights in every position I have held so far,” he said.

The man on trial in Stockholm was a prosecution official who worked in the prison, according to Swedish authorities.

He is suspected of murdering a huge number of detainees who belonged to or sympathized with the Iranian People’s Mujahideen opposition group, as well as other imprisoned dissidents.

According to Amnesty International, the number of people executed is around 5,000, but “the real number could be higher,” according to a 2018 report.

The assassinations have never been recognized by Iran.

The trial will likely extend until April 2022.

  • Reuters