Report 28: Complementary statement of facts by the prosecution and complementary hearing with Plaintiff 1

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

In our previous report, we provided a summary of hearings with witnesses 20, 21 and 22 which were held on 21 and 23 February. In this report we will provide summaries of the complementary statement of facts by the prosecution and a complementary hearing with plaintiff 1, which were held on 24 February.  

Complementary statement of facts by the prosecution

The judge started the court day of by stating that the prosecution had requested to complement their statement of facts and that a complementary hearing with Plaintiff 1 was going to be held. The judge then gave the floor to the prosecution.

The prosecution asked to add as evidence specific parts from Plaintiff 34 and Witness 13’s books, photocopies from Witness 14’s calendar and a number of articles written and handed in by Plaintiff 1. The complementary hearing with Plaintiff 1, held later this day, was going to concern those articles.

Regarding Plaintiff 34’s book, the prosecution wanted to add as evidence parts from the book that described the events when the mass-executions took place. These parts describe how, in the month of Esfand 1366 (1988), about 150 new prisoners were transported to the prison by busses and how they had been stripped and beaten with cables and clubs on arrival. They also described how the televisions in the prison were removed on the 7 of Mordad and how Naserian, Lashkari and some guards had transported ropes on a wheelbarrow into the prison during this period. The prisoners had discussed the purpose of this amongst themselves and jokingly talked about executions. The parts of the book that the prosecution requested to add as evidence also described how a guard had entered Plaintiff 34’s section on the 8 of Mordad and started calling out names, how the named individuals were then taken away and how this happened again on the 9 of Mordad. They further described how Plaintiff 34 was moved, amongst other prisoners, to another section on the 10 of Mordad and how he was brought before the so-called death committee on the 12 of Mordad 1367 (1987).

Regarding Witness 13’s book, the prosecution wished to clarify an incorrect translation. In the translation it said that about 200 persons were brought before the death committee, but the correct translation of the book said that about 200 persons were not taken before the death committee. The new and correct translation also corresponded with the witness testimony in court.

The prosecution also wanted to add, as new evidence, enhanced pictures of Witness 14’s calendar. These enhanced pictures showed more clearly the witness markings in the calendar which indicated important events. There were six dates marked in August that indicated that trucks had arrived at the prison on these occasions.

Complementary hearing with Plaintiff 1

As stated above, Plaintiff 1 was called back to court to testify about a number of articles that he had written, and that the prosecution had asked to add as evidence in the case.

The session started with the judge welcoming Plaintiff 1 back. He then handed over the floor to the prosecution to initiate the hearing with the plaintiff.

The prosecutor stated that Plaintiff 1 had handed over different news articles to the court in a previous hearing. He had written four of those articles, but the prosecution would only focus on three of them. When asked about the articles, Plaintiff 1 explained that he had written them by hand 26 years ago over the time period of a weekend. The handwritten script had been forwarded to a newspaper in the end of March 1996. The newspaper decided to make four articles out of the script. The three articles that the prosecutor focused on during the hearing had been published on different dates in July 1996. The publisher was the National Resistance Council and the MEK.

In one article, published on 15 July 1996, Plaintiff 1 had referred to the defendant as “Abbas” and not “Abbasi”. The prosecutor thus asked the plaintiff why this was. He responded that the editors who had re-written his handwritten notes had misunderstood his handwriting. He further stated that when he had instead referred to the defendant as “dadyar Abbasi” the editors had been able to read his handwriting and written “Abbasi” instead of “Abbas”. He had not been afforded the opportunity to check the transcript before it was published.

In another article, published 22 July 1996, it was described how the guards and the prison leadership, including Abbasi, had congratulated each other when they had executed prisoners. They celebrated by eating pastries and they had on one occasion offered the plaintiff one, which he refused to eat. In this article, Plaintiff 1 had referred to the defendant as “Abbasi” and not “Abbas”. According to the plaintiff, this was because he had written the defendant’s full name. Whenever he had written the defendants first and last name, the editors had written “Abbasi” and not “Abbas” (Ed: “Abbasi” is usually a last name, while “Abbas” is usually a first name).  

In another article, published on 29 July 1996, it was described that a prisoner was whipped, and that “the executioner Abbas” was carrying out the punishment. According to the plaintiff, the fact that the name “Abbas” was used was once again due to a misinterpretation by those who printed the article. “Abbas” and “Abbasi” have similar spelling in Farsi, which could be the root of the misunderstanding, according to the plaintiff. The plaintiff further referred to his memoirs by holding up a book in court. He said that it had been published 18 years ago and that he had referred to the defendant by the name of “Abbasi” in several places in the book. The plaintiff held up a book in the air while referring to his memoirs on several occasions throughout the hearing and was eventually reprimanded by judge Zander for doing so. The judge asked him if there was any secret motive behind him doing so, upon which the plaintiff responded that there was not.

After the conclusion of the prosecution’s hearing with the plaintiff, the judge gave the floor to the plaintiff counsels, upon which the plaintiff’s counsel Göran Hjalmarsson asked about the clothing of the prison staff. The question specifically concerned whether it was common among the staff in Gohardasht prison to wear a particular type of overcoat. The plaintiff responded that the overcoats were in fashion during the 1980’s and that everyone, including the guards and the prison leadership, wore them.  

The floor was then handed over to the defense. Defense counsel Daniel Marcus initiated the hearing by asking the plaintiff who he had handed over the original handwritten articles to. He responded that he did not remember, however, he did know that it had been to the responsible publisher for the newspaper. He was asked if he could get a hold of the original transcript. The plaintiff responded that this would not be possible because 26 years had passed, and that it was unlikely that the publishers would have kept them. The defense also questioned the plaintiff about the fact that he had referred to the defendant as “Abbas” instead of “Abbasi” in certain parts of his articles. The plaintiff responded to these questions as he had earlier.

Next report

In our next report, we will provide summaries of the complementary statement of facts by the privately appointed plaintiff counsel Kenneth Lewis and by the defence and a complementary hearing with the defendant.

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