Proceedings in Stockholm District Court opened with a surprise announcement: the judge said she would be traveling to Albania for two weeks to hear the testimonies of several plaintiffs who were unable to appear in court for various reasons, including passports and visas. Their testimonies, she said, were “necessary” for the case to be fully heard and could not be ignored. Hamid Nouri’s lawyer, some witnesses, and the Swedish prosecutors will also be present in Albania.
Then Reza Fallahi, a former political detainee and survivor of the 1988 mass killings, took the stand. Fallahi was arrested in 1981 while he was serving in the army at the age of about 20, on charges of "supporting the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization [MEK]." He spent 10 years in Evin, Ghezel Hesar and Gohardasht Prisons, but his testimony focused solely on his observations in Gohardasht, from 1986 to 1989, six months after the executions ended.
Fallahi said he and others had been jailed by a kangaroo court after being “tortured and flogged” into signing forced confessions. He confirmed that he had seen Hamid Nouri many times in Gohardasht, both during and after the executions. Shortly after a UN-brokered ceasefire on July 20, 1988, he recalled a judiciary official in Iran saying: “The cases of all political prisoners will be closed soon."
The killings of MEK members began on Ayatollah Khomeini’s orders a week later. “On August 1,” Fallahi said, “they said that anyone with a sentence of 10 years or more should come forward. They took us into the ‘death corridor’ and lined us up. I stood two or three steps ahead of Hamid Nouri, and I will never forget his eyes."
Prisoners in the corridor were questioned one by one on their political affiliations. “When the interrogation was over,” he said, “we were blindfolded and taken to solitary cells. I later found out that some others were taken to subdivisions. They didn’t give us lunch that day, and we knocked on the doors of the cells. Suddenly, the guards came. There was the sound of beatings.” Despite having undergone surgery in prison, he said, he too was was severely beaten by officers. Later, they told him: "If you still want lunch, knock on the door."
Fallahi was put before the Tehran “death panel” again on August 3. He told the court he had again seen Hamid Nouri in the corridor, directing some prisoners down towards the prison Hosseiniyeh, or mosque, after they had finished being questioned. “When the prisoners were heading towards the Hosseiniyeh [mosque], I noticed that from one point onward they’d disappear and could no longer be seen, because they had removed the bulbs from the overhead lights.
“At that time, some people were still returning from the same black spot. Then I realised that it was the guards who were returning. One of them had several wristwatches in his hand. One of them had two jackets, and another had a number of the blindfolds we had used.”
At that moment, he said, “I was 100 percent convinced that I was going to be executed. I went to the nearby bathroom, raised my blindfold, and said goodbye to myself. I said: 'Look, Reza! All the pains and tortures are are over. You’ll go to a place where all these tortures are no more.”
He confirmed that he had seen Hamid Nouri at least three or four times, sending some prisoners – but not all – to the Hosseiniyeh. He never saw any of them again.
"I have not slept for 32 years," Reza Fallahi said. “I stay awake and wait, until I fall unconscious. For me, sleep means going back to prison. In my dreams I see my wife and my daughter, who weren’t even with me then. But there is always bad news, and we’re always running away. We are escaping execution."
Hamid Nouri's trial in Sweden on charges of war crimes and murder – the first time anyone has been tried in connection with the massacre, anywhere in the world – is expected to run to more than 90 sessions, and is not likely to conclude until April 2022.
Nouri’s lawyers claim he was on leave during the period in late summer 1988 in which thousands of MEK members and leftists were slaughtered. The current president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, sat on the Tehran “death panel” that interrogated prisoners before sending them to be systematically shot and hanged.
You can listen to the full audio recording of this session from Iran Watch here.