Tuesday marked the 48th session of Hamid Noury’s trial, an Iranian prison official apprehended in 2019 for his crimes against political prisoners in the 1980s, mainly his involvement in the 1988 massacre.
On Tuesday, Mohammad Khodabandeh-Loui, a former political prisoner, testified against Noury and his role in torturing prisoners in Evin and Gohardasht prison. Khodabandeh-Loui has spent seven years in prison and is a witness to the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, who were mostly members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) organization.
Khodabandeh-Loui’s father, Ali Khodabandeh-Loui was a dentist who was executed in 1980 for supporting the MEK. Mohammad’s brother, Mahmoud Khodabandeh-Loui was arrested in 1989 with his cousin Gholamreza Pour-Eghbali, and both were executed later.
During Noury’s trial, Khodabandeh-Loui testified that during the 1988 massacre, he was transferred to Evin prison along with 157 other prisoners. “Only seven of us survived,” he said.
In 1987, prisoners in Gohardasht went on hunger strike to protest the inhuman treatment by prison authorities. All were taken to a room called Gas Chamber. The Gohardasht prison’s Gas Chamber was a small room where prisoners were compactly kept and could hardly breathe.
“During a severe crackdown on prisoners in 1987 in the gas chamber, I saw Hamid Noury,” Khodabandeh-Loui said. He testified that Noury and his boss, Nasserian along with other guards started beating prisoners and taking them out of the cell one by one.
“I was the only one standing at the end of the room. Naserian, [Mohammad Mogheyseh], Davoud Lashgari, and Abbasi [Noury] entered the room. Naserian shouted: ‘your dead body would get out of this door today,’ then they started beating me. My blindfold tore open, and I saw their faces. Abbasi [Noury] hit me hard in the face, and I felt an agonizing pain in the right side of my face,” he said.
As a result, Khodabandeh-Loui lost one of his eyes.
According to Khodabandeh-Loui, the massacre began in Evin prison on July 27, 1988. A prison from his adjacent cell tells Mohammad and other inmates through morse code that the guards had taken several prisoners out for execution.
“The last people they took for execution were my cellmates. They were taken out on September 24, 1988,” he said. Khodabandeh-Loui testified that during the 1988 massacre, he was transferred to Evin prison along with 157 other prisoners. “Only seven of us survived,” he said.
The MEK supporters formed the majority of victims in 1988. The so-called “Death Commissions,” were tasked with identifying the MEK supporters and sending them to gallows.
During his hearing sessions last week, Hamid Noury acknowledged that he would be prosecuted upon arrival in Iran if he even used the MEK’s name in the court. He underscored that MEK’s name is the regime’s red line, and anyone who mentions the name will be arrested.
In the court in Stockholm this morning, criminal Hamid Noury explicitly underscored that the name of People's Mojahedin Organization (#MEK) in Iran is the red line and anyone who mentions the name of the Mojahedin will be prosecuted & arrested. #ProsecuteRaisiNow #1988Massacre
— Shahin Gobadi (@gobadi) November 25, 2021
Criminal Noury in today’s session of the Stockholm court made it clear that main source of calling People’s Mojahedin Organization (#MEK) as a sect was mullahs’ regime & its agents. Role of regime’s lobbies outside of #Iran was to echo this term. #ProsecuteRaisiNow #1988Massacre
— Shahin Gobadi (@gobadi) November 25, 2021
Hamid Noury had previously claimed that Khodabandeh-Loui and several other plaintiffs were provoked by Iraj Mesdaghi to participate in this trial. Mesdahi, is an Iranian intelligence operative who was recruited in 1981 in prison and had posed as MEK supporters for years in Iranian diaspora. On orders by Tehran, Mesdaghi who had a dark record in prison, had tried to tarnish the Iranian Resistance’s Justice Seeking Movement of the 1988 Victims.
“By pretending to be the only one seeking justice for victims, he [Mesdaghi] want to pursue its malicious political goals against the MEK and its members who were executed [in 1988]” Khodabandeh-Loui said in this regard.
“I vehemently reject Noury’s claim” Khodabandeh-Loui said. “I was the one who gave Mesdaghi’s video [insulting individuals like Khodabandeh-Loui] to the Police.”
“This person insulted my friends in Albania and me, saying that the MEK prevented us from testifying against Noury,” Khodabandeh-Loui said, adding that behind making all this fuss, “Mesdaghi intended to prevent us from actually participating in this trial.”
“I lost my eye when I was 23 years old due to the beatings of Noury and his boss. I address this court now. Do I need to be bribed or coerced to participate in this court? Even based on personal motivation, my eye tells me to participate in this court,” he said. He also added that his father and brother were executed by the regime. “How can I stay silent?” he said.
He also shed light on Mesdaghi’s relation with the regime in previous years.
“I was in Baghdad in 2011, where the Iranian embassy was actively hunting the MEK members or trying to recruit them,” Khodabandeh-Loui said. “At that time, Mesdaghi advised me to go to the Iranian embassy, tell them that I had repented, and ask for a passport,” he added.
Khodabandeh-Loui also emphasized that more than 1600 former Iranian political prisoners have signed a letter condemning Mesdaghi’s action and his role as an MOIS agent.