Hamid Noury (61) was arrested at the airport in Stockholm in 2019, and is accused of war crimes and mass executions and torture of political prisoners committed in Gohardasht prison in Karaj in 1988. Noury "participated in the executions in collaboration with others," the court said when sentencing him for "serious crimes under international law."
Iran condemned this verdict. "Iran is absolutely certain that the sentence imposed on Noury is politically motivated and not legally valid," said the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Kanaani.
Noury has denied all charges, and his lawyer has announced an appeal. Amnesty International estimates that around 5,000 people were executed on the orders of the Iranian government, and in a 2018 report estimated that "the actual figure could be higher"
Iran has never acknowledged the killings. Noury is so far the only person tried for the purges of political dissidents and targeted members of the Iranian People's Mujahideen. According to Swedish law, courts can try Swedes and nationals of other countries for crimes against international law committed outside the territory of Sweden.
Hundreds of Iranians in exile who followed the trial greeted the verdict with expressions of satisfaction.
"We seek truth and justice"
Reza Fallahi (65), one of the prosecutors, expressed the hope that Noury would provide information about the murders in prison.
"We are seeking truth and justice," said Fallahi, who spent 10 years in an Iranian prison for supporting the opposition. Human rights groups say Iran's current president, Ebrahim Raisi, is one of four judges charged with overseeing the executions.
In 2021, when asked about the alleged executions, Raisi told reporters that "if the judge and the prosecutor defend the safety of the people, they deserve praise." The trial worsened relations between Sweden and Iran.
Shortly before the trial ended in May, Iranian media reported that Swedish-Iranian scientist Ahmadreza Djalali had been sentenced to death on charges of spying for Israel and would be executed. Sweden also announced that a Swedish tourist ended up in prison in Iran.