STOCKHOLM, July 27 (Reuters) – A 60-year-old Iranian citizen has been charged in Sweden with suspected war crimes committed in Iran in 1988 when around 5,000 political prisoners were executed on government orders, Stockholm prosecutors said on Tuesday.
The man, whom prosecutors declined to name publicly, has been in custody in Sweden for almost two years and is suspected of having played a leading role in the mass killing, prosecutors said.
“It’s an Iranian citizen we have charged with war crimes and murder in Iran committed in 1988,” prosecutor Kristina Lindhoff Carleson told Reuters.
The accused man maintains his innocence, prosecutors said. Reuters was unable to immediately reach his lawyer by telephone.
The man was a prosecution official who worked in the Gohardasht prison in Karaj, Iran, Lindhoff Carleson said.
The 1988 purge targeted members of the Iranian People’s Mujahideen, which was fighting in parts of Iran, as well as other political dissidents, such as left-wing groups.
The Mujahideen was cooperating with the Iraqi army, which was at war with Iran at the time, Lindhoff Carleson said, adding that the connection with the Iran-Iraq conflict was why executions of group members were treated as war crimes in violation of international law.
The killing of other political dissidents was being treated as murder, she said.
(Reporting by Colm Fulton; Editing by Giles Elgood)