A verdict is due in Sweden 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.

Hamid Nouri, 61, was arrested at a Stockholm airport in 2019 and is charged with war crimes for the mass execution and torture of political prisoners at the Gohardasht prison in Karaj, Iran, in 1988.

The killings targeted members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), a political-militant organization that advocated the overthrow of Iran’s clerical regime.

The group fought alongside Iraqi forces, which was at war with Iran at the time, the Swedish prosecutors said, adding that Iran’s then-supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued an order for the execution of all prisoners in Iranian prisons who sympathized and remained loyal to the MKO.

Amnesty International estimated that at least 5,000 people were executed on Khomeini’s orders, saying in a 2018 report that “the real number could be higher.” Iran has never acknowledged the killings.

Sweden’s principle of universal jurisdiction allows its courts to try a person on serious charges such as murder or war crimes regardless of where the alleged offenses took place.

Nouri, the only person so far to be tried in the mass executions, faces a maximum life sentence if found guilty. He has denied the charges.

The trial, which began in August 2021, is particularly sensitive in Iran, where current government figures have been accused of having a role in the 1988 deaths, most notably President Ebrahim Raisi.

Raisi, a former chief of Iran’s judiciary, has denied involvement in the killings, and Tehran has called the trial of Nouri “illegal.”

“Sweden should provide the grounds for the release of Nouri as soon as possible,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani told a news conference on July 13.

Some in the West have expressed concerns about possible reprisals against Western prisoners held by Tehran. Two Swedish-Iranian citizens are on death row in Iran.

Source » rferl