Former Iranian prison inmates have told a murder trial how their guards celebrated the mass hanging of dissidents by passing around sweets.
Witnesses described the final hours of victims at the trial of Hamid Nouri, a former regime official accused of war crimes and murder following the mass killing of thousands of prisoners at the end of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War.
The trial has moved for several days to Albania at the request of prosecutors to hear evidence from seven exiles who have fled the country. Mr Nouri, 60, who denies the charges against him, has remained in Sweden, where he was arrested in 2019 after flying into the country to visit family.
One former inmate at Iran’s Gohardasht prison, Saheb Jam, said he watched Mr Nouri call out the names of inmates to be taken away for execution.
He “held a box of pastries and offered sweets to prison guards as they passed by”, he told the court, according to a translation of his evidence by an opposition group. “They were celebrating the executions with sweets.”
Mr Nouri has been on trial at the district court in the Swedish capital Stockholm since August in connection with events during the summer of 1998, when he was working as an assistant to prosecutors at the jail in Karaj, near Tehran.
The court will continue to sit in the port city of Durres until November 18 to hear the evidence of the seven, who are members of the People’s Mujahideen of Iran (MEK) group who live in a camp close by. The MEK, which turned on the regime after initially supporting the 1979 revolution, were the main targets of the campaign of executions at prisons across Iran in 1988.
Human rights groups have estimated that 5,000 prisoners were killed across Iran, allegedly under the orders of supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in revenge for the group’s support of Iraq during the war.
The prosecution said that Mr Nouri's participation included handing down death sentences, bringing prisoners to the execution chamber and helping prosecutors gather prisoners' names.
Mr Nouri is due to give evidence this month.
Sweden's principle of universal jurisdiction means that its courts can try a person on serious charges such as murder or war crimes regardless of where the alleged offences took place.