STOCKHOLM (AP) — The Iranian ambassador to Sweden went to the Swedish Foreign Ministry on Friday to protest the sentencing of an Iranian citizen to life by a Swedish court for committing grave war crimes and murder during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
The Stockholm District Court said Thursday that Hamid Noury took part in severe atrocities in July-August 1988 while working as an assistant to the deputy prosecutor at the Gohardasht prison outside the Iranian city of Karaj.
The court said 61-year-old Noury participated “in the executions of many political prisoners in Iran in the summer of 1988.” The acts were deemed as a serious crime against international law, the court said. A second wave of executions in 1988 was directed at left-wing sympathizers who were deemed to have renounced their Islamic faith, the court statement said, adding “these acts have been deemed as murder.”
After the verdict was announced, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani, strongly condemned the sentence and said Iran “holds Sweden responsible for the damages caused to bilateral relations.”
Hours later, Sweden’s charge d’affaires in Tehran was summoned to the Iranian foreign ministry and was handed a protest note. Iran urged the Swedish government to revoke the court verdict and immediately release Nouri, the state-run IRNA news agency said.
In an email to The Associated Press on Friday, the Swedish Foreign Ministry said “Iran has in various ways expressed its dissatisfaction with the trial and the verdict against Nouri.”
“Swedish prosecutors and courts are independent and autonomous,” it said, adding that the court had made “an independent examination of the case.” The verdict can be appealed, which Noury's lawyers said they wanted to do.
Throughout the trial, Noury denied wrongdoing.
The verdict comes at a tense time for ties between Stockholm and Tehran. A number of Europeans were detained in Iran in recent months, including a Swedish tourist, two French citizens, a Polish scientist and others.
The detentions aroused concerns that Iran hoped to leverage the prisoners as bargaining chips to pressure the United States and European nations to grant the sanctions relief it received under its tattered 2015 nuclear accord.
Noury was arrested in November 2019 when he arrived in Stockholm on a tourist trip.