Report 4: The Prosecution’s Opening Presentation pt. 2

Gohardasht prison in Iran. One of the prisons where many persons were executed in the summer of 1988. Photo: Gohardasht Prison / Ensie & Matthias ( / CC BY-SA 2.0

In our last report, we gave an overview on the prosecution’s opening presentation and expanded on a few key points of the presentation. In this report we intend to provide further insight on the evidence presented by the prosecution thus far. 

In accordance with the statement of the criminal acts as charged, the accused is alleged to have been involved in the execution and torture of an unspecified, but “very large” number of prisoners associated with the MEK between 30 July and 16 August 1988, and the execution of an unspecified, but “very large” number of prisoners associated with other political organisations between 27 August and 6 September 1988 at Gohardasht prison in Iran. 

Although the number of prisoners that the accused is alleged to have been involved in executing and torturing is unspecified, the prosecution has sought to concretise the charges by adding an appendix with 1) the names of 110 individuals which the prosecution argues were prisoners associated with MEK and who were executed at Gohardasht and, 2) the names of 26 individuals which the prosecution argues were prisoners associated with other political organisations and who were executed at Gohardasht.  

A total of 29 individuals are listed as injured parties in relation to the charge of war crimes, with 23 of those being former prisoners at Gohardasht associated with the MEK. One of the 23 individuals listed passed away during the investigation. An additional six individuals on the list are relatives of prisoners associated with the MEK who were executed. An additional seven individuals are listed as injured parties in relation to the charge of murder, all of whom are relatives to prisoners associated with other political organisations who were executed at Gohardasht. 

There are no women included in either lists of prisoners who were executed or in the list of injured parties who were prisoners themselves. Although many women were imprisoned, subjected to torture, and executed during the summer of 1988, the prosecution explained that most of the female prison population at Gohardasht had been relocated prior to when the wave of executions began. 

The Evidence

As pertains to the accused’s alleged involvement in the execution and torture of prisoners at Gohardasht, the prosecution relies entirely on statements from injured parties who were themselves imprisoned and associated with the MEK, and witness statements from formers prisoners who were associated with other political organisations.  

A number of the injured parties, such as Iraj Mesdaghi, Mahmoud Royaie and Hossein Farsy have written books on their experiences as prisoners and on the wave of executions at Gohardasht in the summer of 1988 especially. In addition to their testimonies, parts of their literature are included as evidence and was referenced to frequently during the prosecution’s opening presentation. 

Also included are a number of reports from Amnesty International, the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, Justice for Victims of 1988 Massacre, and both the investigation and judgement from the Iran tribunal (see Different parts of these reports were referenced to frequently during the opening prosecution as well. The author of the report from the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, Geoffrey Robertson QC, will be giving a statement in court as well.

Furthermore, the prosecution presented lists of executed prisoners from various sources, in which the prosecution particularly focused on discrepancies in names, dates or execution site between the different lists regarding specific individuals. The vast majority of the lists have been compiled by or with the help of survivors and family associations or political organisations.  

Memorandums from several legal experts, including professors Jann K. Kleffner, Mark Klamberg and Ove Bring are included to support the prosecution’s arguments on the nature of the armed conflict. All three have been summoned to give their oral testimony as well, alongside other experts on law, religion, politics, and human memory. 

Next Report

In our coming report, we will cover the opening presentation by the accused’s defense team which was concluded last week, and give a brief summary of the plaintiff counsels’ presentations.  

A translated version of this report in Farsi can be found here.