Iran recalls envoy from Sweden over Hamid Nouri's life sentence for war crimes

Nouri, 61, was convicted of killing prisoners in Iran in the 1980s when he was a deputy public prosecutor

People demonstrate outside Stockholm District Court on July 14 after former Iranian prosecutor Hamid Nour was given a life sentence. AFP
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Iran has recalled its ambassador from Sweden over the life sentence imposed on an Iranian citizen this month for war crimes and murder.

Iran’s Press TV quoted foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani as saying that Ambassador Ahmad Masoumifar was summoned home for “consultations in protest at the illegal statement and sentence issued in Sweden against Hamid Nouri, which is based on baseless, distorted and fabricated accusations”.

Stockholm District Court said that Nouri, 61, took part in severe atrocities in July and August of 1988 while working as an assistant to the deputy prosecutor at the Gohardasht prison on the outskirts of the Iranian city of Karaj.

The court said he participated “in the executions of many political prisoners” in Iran that summer.

Amnesty International has estimated the number executed on government orders at about 5,000, saying in a 2018 report that the real number could be higher. Iran has never acknowledged the killings.

Nouri denied wrongdoing throughout the trial, which Iran called a “show” based on political motives.

He is the only person to face trial over a purge that targeted members of the Iranian People's Mujahideen, which was fighting in parts of Iran, and other political dissidents.

The development comes at a tense time for ties between Stockholm and Tehran. A number of Europeans have been detained in Iran in recent months, including a Swedish tourist, two French citizens, a Polish scientist and others.

The detentions heighten concerns that Iran hopes to use the prisoners to put pressure on the US and European nations in negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear accord, which granted it sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear activity.

Nouri was arrested at Stockholm airport in November 2019 when he arrived on a tourist trip.

In a separate development, Iran summoned Argentina’s charge d’affaires in Tehran, following the travel ban that Buenos Aires imposed on five Iranian flight crew members after their plane landed in the South American nation in June.

Prosecutors in Argentina said they had launched investigations into whether the crew members — 14 Venezuelans and five Iranians — had any ties to international terrorism or other illicit activity.

Iran denies the charge and considers the travel ban a violation of the crew's rights.

Updated: July 21, 2022, 2:09 PM