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Iran: Hamid Noury Trial: A Sadistic Torturer or a “Caring” Guard?

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On Tuesday, a court in Sweden held the first hearing of Hamid Noury, an Iranian former prison official who has participated in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisons. In his highly contradicted remarks on Tuesday, Noury showed his true color as a henchman and a criminal.

Noury was arrested in 2019 in Sweden. His trial began in 2021. Noury’s trial has featured harrowing testimonies by the survivors of the 1988 massacre. During the 1988 massacre, over 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members, and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) were executed.

Noury was a prison official at the time of the massacre in Gohardahst prison. He was known among prisoners as Hamid Abbasi. Noury had initially claimed he had been mistaken for someone else. But on Tuesday’s hearing, he acknowledged his identity.

Noury’s remarks consisted of three parts: praising known criminals in the regime, repeating the same baseless allegations against the MEK, and denying the 1988 massacre.

He began his remarks by praising criminals such as Ruhollah Khomeini, Ebrahim Raisi (aka hanging judge), Assadollah Lajevardi (aka butcher of Evin), and Qassem Soleimani, who is notorious for his crimes in the region.

He described the regime’s current president Raisi, as “the popular president of the people of Iran.” Raisi played a key role in the 1988 massacre as a member of Tehran’s “Death Commission,” a committee that sentenced prisoners to death. Noury’s “popular president” was selected in June by the regime’s Supreme Leader Khamenei, while the majority of Iranians boycotted the regime’s sham election.

Noury then praised Qassem Soleimani, the eliminated commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, who was notorious for his crimes in the Middle East, mainly in Syria and Iraq. “When [Soleimani] was insulted,” Noury said, referring to one of the witnesses calling Soleimani a criminal, “I felt that the world would break on my head.”

Noury then called Lajevardi the “beloved prosecutor” of Tehran. Lajevardi had personally tortured, raped, and killed many prisoners in the 1980s.

After Noury finished praising criminals, he began attacking the MEK, rehashing the Iranian regime’s allegations against its main democratic opposition group.

“There’s an organization that is so-called People’s Mojahedin, but no one in Iran knows them by this name. All Iranians call them Monafeghin,” Noury said, using the term that only the regime uses for the MEK. “If I mistakenly call them Mojahedin in my remarks, I apologize to the Iranian people.”

Monfeghin is a derogatory term only used by the regime.

While Noury tried to downplay his role in the 1988 massacre and deny his presence in Gohardasht prison at the time, he admitted to his role in the regime’s crimes in the 1980s.

Noury testified that he had participated in oppressing the Kurdish ethnic minority in 1979. He acknowledged that he was allowed to work in prison upon his own “request”. He held different positions in various prisons near Tehran. He narcissistically praised himself as a “caring” guard who “loved prisoners” and “fulfilled their demands.” Yet, as witnesses testified during his trial, Noury was a sadistic torturer who took joy in harassing prisoners.

Mojtaba Akhgar, a former political prisoner, is one of the prisoners Noury personally tortured. According to Akhgar, Noury and his boss Mohammad Moghiseh, also known as Nasserian, tortured him weeks after the 1988 massacre.

“One day, Naserian came and called some names, including Javad Taqavi and me. He told us to go out, and we did. We were blindfolded in the prison yard. He told us that the Sharia judge had sentenced you to lashes. I was supposed to receive 160 lashes and Javad 100. They tied us to a metal bed and flogged us. I was severely injured and hardly got up from the bed,” Akhgar said.

Iran: Human Rights record of Ebrahim Raisi, Eyewitness Accounts, Mojtaba Akhgar

According to Noury, he retired from prison work in 1991. “I set up a gravel and sand company,” he said, adding, “Every night, I came back home with a suitcase full of money.”

Denying the 1988 massacre

Noury blatantly denied that the 1988 massacre ever happened and called it a “made up and undocumented story” and a “ridiculous play.”

It should be noted that Iran’s top officials, including Raisi, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, another member of the Death Commission and former Justice Minister, have acknowledged their role in the 1988 massacre and “proudly” defended the mass executions of prisoners.

Noury also denied the existence of Gohardasht prison. “There is no prison called Gohardasht. This is a historical lie that has been made up in these thirty-and-some years,” he said. “If you say Gohardasht in Iran, people are going to laugh at you.”

He claimed that he was on leave at the time of the 1988 massacre. But many prisoners saw him taking prisoners to the “Death Commission” and from there to “Death Hall,” where prisoners were executed.

In his shocking testimony last week, Asghar Mehdizadeh, who was taken to the Death Hall, told the court that how Noury and Nasserian executed MEK prisoners.

The 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran: Eyewitness Accounts, Asghar Mehdizadeh

“The guard took me into the hall and kept me standing at around 30 meters from the stage. From under my blindfold, I could see the bodies of executed prisoners piled up on each other on the stage,” he said. “I lost control. When the guard removed my blindfold, I saw 12 MEK supporters on the stage, standing on chairs and with nooses around their necks. The guards were carrying the dead bodies outside and showing them to each other. On one side of the stage were Nasserian, Davood Lashgari, and Hamid Abbasi [Noury], and on the other side were around 20 other guards.”

“As the prisoners started chanting, Nasserian and his entourage were looking at them with stupefaction. Then suddenly, Nasserian snapped at Davood Lashgari, Abbasi, and the other guards, ‘These are Monafeg! What are you waiting for? Kick their chairs!” Mehdizadeh said. “As Nasserian started kicking the chairs, Lasghari and Abbasi followed suit.”

Exhibition in Ashraf 3, Albania: Gohardasht Prison Death hall in the 1988 massacre in Iran

Noury’s controversial statements are a testament to his failure in defending his case. Noury is one of the regime officials involved in the 1988 massacre. Other criminals and main figures like Raisi should be prosecuted and held accountable for their role in the 1988 massacre, as their role in this crime against humanity is well documented.