The ongoing trial of the former Iranian prison official Hamid Noury has been temporarily expedited to the District Court of Durres in Albania were members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) residing at Ashraf 3 in the country will give their eyewitness testimonies.
Noury is being prosecuted by Swedish authorities for his role in the 1998 massacre in Iran, as well as his torturing of inmates at Gohardasht prison in Karaj, following his arrest on a trip to Stockholm three years ago.
During the summer of 1988, over 30,000 political prisoners were brutally executed, most of whom were MEK members and supporters. Then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa which stated that supporters of the MEK were enemies of God and they deserved to be executed. The 1988 massacre is considered a war crime and a crime against humanity, with legal experts recognizing the event as an act of genocide that needs to be addressed in international tribunals.
The first 34 sessions of the trial were held in the District Court of Stockholm, and sessions are set to return there after next week once all testimonies from witnesses in Albania have been given. Noury and his lawyers remained in Sweden and joined the trial sessions through a video conference.
While the trial proceeded, several witnesses of the 1988 massacre and families of the victims gathered in front of the court in Durres and spoke to the press about the Iranian regime’s crimes against MEK members and dissidents.
Another gathering was held at Ashraf 3, the home of exiled MEK members, in memory of the victims of the 1988 massacre. During the event, many former political prisoners spoke out about their experiences and the atrocities they witnessed in Iran’s prisons.
During the 36th session of Noury’s trial, Majid Saheb Jam, a former political prisoner who spent seventeen years in Iran’s prisons testified on the atrocities that took place in Iran’s brutal prisons.
During the 1988 massacre, Saheb Jam was in Gohardasht prison, and he directly witnessed the role played by Noury and other regime officials in the 1988 massacre.
After being transferred from Evin prison to Gohardasht, he was immediately subjected to torture by prison guards, who beat him and other prisoners with sticks and cables.
On August 6, Saheb Jam was blindfolded and transferred with fellow inmates to another building, referred to as the courthouse.
He said, “I lost some of my best friends that day, people who were with me that morning and had been sent to the Death Commission. The only difference was that when they were asked the same question, they presented themselves as supporters of MEK. I didn’t say that. And I watched them walk past me and go to the death hall.”
During Friday’s session, Asghar Mehdizadeh, a former political, testified on the atrocities that took place in Iran’s brutal prisons. Mehdizadeh was arrested in 1982 for supporting the MEK and spent 13 years in various prisons, including Evin and Gohardasht. He is one of the direct witnesses of the 1988 massacre.
Mehdizadeh stated how Noury would torment prisoners, saying that he would make the younger inmates crawl around the courtyard in the cold during winter.
Between August 4 and 8 in 1988, Mehdizadeh was regularly taken to the ‘death corridor’, where prisoners would be waiting to be taken to the ‘Death Hall’, a large warehouse where inmates were executed by hanging. Those waiting in the corridor were forced to watch their fellow prisoners die until it was their turn for the noose.
Mehdizadeh recalled that when his blindfold was removed by guards, he saw 12 MEK supporters standing on chairs on a stage with the nooses around their necks chanting, “Long live Rajavi, Death to Khomeini!”
Prison officials were ordered to begin removing the chairs, but after the fourth person, the rest of the prisoners on the stage chose to jump off the chairs by themselves, as a show of defiance towards the regime.
During Monday’s session, Akbar Samadi, a former political, testified on the atrocities that took place in Iran’s brutal prisons. Samadi was arrested in 1981, while he was only 14 years old, and spent 10 years in prison for supporting the MEK. In April 1986, he was transferred to Gohardasht prison.
Samadi was questioned during his testimony, by his lawyer, about what the spirit of the prisoners was when they learned that fellow inmates were being executed.
He said, “While they were all ready for death, they had very high spirits,” adding that some prisoners accepted their fate and cheerfully talked and laughed in their final hours.