THE TRIAL OF HAMID NOURY
Speech by Struan Stevenson
14th July 2022
I had hoped that today we could celebrate the triumph of European justice over the criminal Iranian regime. European justice may be a concept that is difficult to understand for a fascist tyranny that uses intimidation, torture, and execution as the mainstays of its oppression. But I regret to say that European justice was dealt a severe blow last week in Belgium.
EU attempts to appease the mullahs’ regime have reached their apex with the approval last week in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Belgian Parliament of a Belgium-Iran Treaty to enable the exchange of prisoners. It is an almost unbelievable scandal. Terrorist prisoners of Iranian nationality in Belgium and prisoners of Belgian nationality held hostage in Iran, will be exchanged and allowed to serve their prison sentences in their respective home countries. But in a grovelling act of appeasement to the criminal Iranian regime, the treaty will also allow amnesty to be granted to the exchanged prisoners. Ratification of this scandalous treaty is being debated right now, as we speak, in the Belgian Parliament.
The intention of the treaty, without doubt, is the release from prison of the Iranian terrorist diplomat, Assadollah Assadi, and his three co-conspirators. The EU appeasers clearly hope that this may improve their chances of resurrecting the deeply flawed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, implemented by Obama in 2015 and unilaterally abandoned by Trump in 2018. The EU appeasers have tried desperately to resurrect the zombie deal for the past four years, but the mullahs have refused to cooperate unless sanctions are lifted, enabling them to kick-start their crumbling economy. The EU’s main appeasers see this as a prime way of acquiring Iranian oil and gas, to fill the vacuum left by the Russian war in Ukraine. It is a classic act of appeasement and a classic betrayal of the core principles of European justice.
It is worth remembering why Assadi was convicted. He and his co-conspirators were tried in Belgium in 2021 for attempting to bomb a mass opposition rally at Villepinte near Paris in 2018. According to the verdict in the Antwerp Court, Assadi was a senior agent of the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). He was using the cover of being a diplomat in the Iranian embassy in Vienna to enable him to plan a terrorist bomb attack that would have caused carnage on European soil, potentially killing hundreds of men, women, and children.
Evidence from the Belgian prosecutor showed how Assadi had brought the professionally assembled 550 gm TATP bomb on a commercial flight to Vienna from Tehran in his diplomatic bag and passed it, together with an envelope containing €22,000, to two of his co-conspirators. The court was told that Assadi had instructed them how to prime and detonate the device. A third co-conspirator was posted at the Villepinte rally as a lookout. Already this year the mullahs saw a Belgian appeal court extend the prison terms of Assadi’s three co-conspirators.
There is no doubt Assadi’s terrorist plot was ordered from the highest echelons of the regime, including the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the president at that time Hassan Rouhani and the then foreign Minister Javad Zarif. The EU should have demanded they be held to account, but predictably, Europe’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security – Josep Borrell – said nothing and did nothing. He is one of the arch appeasers of the mullahs’ fascist regime, as is Charles Michel, former Belgian Prime Minister and now President of the European Council, who has repeatedly confirmed his support for re-opening dialogue with the criminal regime in Iran.
There is no doubt that if these convicted terrorists are allowed to return to Iran, under the terms of the reprehensible Belgium-Iran Treaty, they will be hailed as heroes and probably promoted. Their release from prison in Belgium will make a complete mockery of justice and send the clearest signal to the Iranian regime that they can use their embassies and diplomats in Europe to conduct terrorist attacks with impunity. Indeed, they will be encouraged to take further European hostages to hold as bargaining chips for future prisoner exchanges. Belgium will become the mullahs’ headquarters for planning terrorist atrocities in Europe.
The Belgium-Iran Treaty may also send the wrong signals here, today, to Sweden. The guilty verdict we had all hoped for in the trial of Hamid Noury has been announced. Noury was arrested at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport on 9th. November 2019. He had been warned by friends that he risked arrest if he travelled to Sweden, but he brazenly boasted that he spent ten days in Sweden every year and wasn’t worried.
In their case against Noury, under universal jurisdiction, the Swedish judiciary cited evidence that many political prisoners who supported the main opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran/Mojahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK), were executed between 30 July and 16 August 1988 in the Gohardasht prison in Karaj, Iran, where he was assistant to the deputy prosecutor.
The indictment stated that Noury was “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 Mojahedin and, additionally, of subjecting prisoners to severe suffering which is deemed torture and inhuman treatment.”
The Swedish prosecutors gathered extensive evidence from witnesses and survivors of the 1988 massacre. Their testaments were horrifying. Witness after witness recounted how Noury helped with the selection of PMOI/MEK prisoners who were brought before a summary court where they were asked simply if they still supported the Mojahedin. If, during an arbitrary two-minute hearing, they answered ‘yes’, they were immediately blindfolded and led to the so-called ‘death corridor’ by Noury, where he would order them to stand in line, sometimes for hours, before escorting them to the execution chamber, where they would be made to watch other prisoners being hanged, before being executed themselves. Nouri often attended and participated in the hanging of prisoners. One witness survived to provide testimony because he had fainted at the sight of his fellow prisoners being hanged.
But the court’s verdict today in Stockholm will be worthless if Sweden follows the example of the Belgian appeasers and allows Noury to be exchanged for hostages held in Iran on trumped-up charges. If the EU’s appeasers allow these killers and perpetrators of evil to escape the judgement of our courts and to be freed, the founding principles of European justice will be forever shattered. The theocratic regime’s terrorists must he held to account and must face the justice of our courts. We cannot allow the appeasers to win.
Indeed, Sweden could double-down on today’s verdict by indicting Ebrahim Raisi for genocide and crimes against humanity under universal jurisdiction. That would reinforce the core principles of European justice and send the strongest possible message to the Belgian appeasers that there can be no impunity for terrorists and murderers.