Prosecution for War Crimes in Iran
Today, a decision has been taken to prosecute an Iranian citizen suspected of committing grave war crimes and murder in Iran during 1988. The Swedish public prosecutors Kristina Lindhoff Carleson and Martina Winslow are available for brief comments this afternoon.
Part 1: War crimes
Between 1981 and 1988 there was an international armed conflict between Iran and Iraq. In the final phase of this armed conflict, Iran was attacked on several occasions, including on 26 July 1988, by an armed branch of the political organisation, Iranian People's Mujahedin.
The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, shortly afterwards issued an order to execute all prisoners held in Iranian prisons who sympathised with and were loyal in their convictions to the Mujahedin. Following this order, a large number of such prisoners were executed between 30 July and 16 August 1988 in the Gohardasht prison in Karaj, Iran.
According to the indictment, at the time of these mass executions the accused held the position of assistant to the deputy prosecutor at the Gohardasht prison. The accused is suspected of participating, together with other perpetrators, in these mass executions and, as such, intentionally taking the lives of a large number of prisoners, who sympathised with the Mujahedin and, additionally, of subjecting prisoners to severe suffering which is deemed torture and inhuman treatment.
The indictment further states that the Mujahedin was involved in the international armed conflict between Iran and Iraq. The Mujahedin’s attacks originated in Iraqi territory, and were carried out in cooperation with the Iraqi army. It is stated that there was a connection between the armed conflict and these mass executions, which is why these acts are deemed as a grave crime committed in violation of internationalhumanitarian law.
Part 2: Murder
At some point between these mass executions and 27 August 1988, the Iranian leadership decided that other political prisoners held in Iranian prisons and who sympathised with various left wing groups and were regarded as apostates by the Iranian leadership, should be executed. As a result, a large number of these prisoners were executed between 27 August and 6 September 1988 in the Gohardasht prison in Karaj, Iran.
According to the indictment filed today, the accused is suspected of intentionally killing, together with other perpetrators, a large number of prisoners who sympathised with various left wing groups and who were regarded as apostates. These acts are classified as murder according to the Swedish Penal Code since they are not considered to be related to an armed conflict.
“War crimes are considered to be some of the most serious criminal acts not only within our national legislation, but also within the international law. These types of crimes are regarded as so grave that, irrespective of who committed them or where they were committed, national courts are able and obligated to conduct proceedings where necessary. Therefore, legal proceedings can be initiated also in Sweden, due to international obligations and the principle of universal jurisdiction,” stated public prosecutor Kristina Lindhoff Carleson.
“This extensive investigation resulting in this indictment shows that even though these acts were committed beyond Sweden’s territory and for more than three decades ago, they can be subject to legal proceedings in Sweden,” stated Public Prosecutor Kristina Lindhoff Carleson.
“Swedish domestic legislation does not include crimes against humanity committed before 1 July 2014 and could not be relied on in this indictment as the alleged criminal acts took place before that date. Therefore, the indictment involves crimes against the international law i.e. war crimes as well as murder,” Kristina Lindhoff Carleson clarifies.
Victims, witnesses and experts in the field from various parts of the world will be heard during the proceedings, which are expected to commence on 10 August 2021 and continue until April 2022.
Case number in the Stockholm District Court: B 15255-19.
The public prosecutors are available today for brief comments between the hours of 13.00–15.00.
Kristina Lindhoff Carleson, +46 10 562 54 31
Martina Winslow, +46 10 562 54 21
Press Service, +46 10 562 50 20
The Swedish Prosecution Authority contributes to combatting crime in an effective and legally complaint way.
The Swedish prosecutor has a central role within the judicial system, both in Sweden and in an international context. The prosecutor’s role is to independently lead criminal investigations, make decisions on charges and take cases to court.
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