Report 38: Complementary statement of facts from the prosecution and complementary hearing with the defendant 

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 previous report, we provided a summary of the hearing with Witness 29, which was held on 7 April.  In this report, we have summarized the complementary statements of facts from the prosecution and the complementary hearing with the defendant which was held on 21 April.  

Complementary statements of facts from the prosecution 

As everyone was called into the court room at the beginning of the trial day, the defendant walked into the room carrying a tower of books which he placed on the table in front of him. Judge Zander then welcomed everyone and informed that the prosecution would hold a complementary statement of facts due to new evidence coming to light, before the defendant would be heard through a complementary hearing which had been called by both the prosecution and the defense. 

Prosecutor Kristina Lindhoff Carleson started by explaining that the defendant’s phone had been confiscated after his arrest and that pieces of content from his phone had been showed as evidence throughout the trial. Some audio files had been found and one of those files, a phone call conversation between the defendant’s daughter and his wife, was of particular importance as it seems to have been made on 8 November 2019, the day before the defendant’s arrest, but had not been brought up previously during the trial. The prosecutor explained that the content of the phone call was interesting as the defendant’s daughter could be heard explaining to her mother, who had asked what her husband was doing, that he was emptying his phone together with his son-in-law. The prosecutor proceeded to read the translated transcription of the conversation to the court and to then, with the defendant’s permission, play the original audio file for everyone to hear.  

The police’s digital forensics team had also been able to confirm that on the same day, 8 November 2019, a number of screenshots had been taken on the phone of some of the contacts in the phone book which had then been sent to the defendant’s daughter through the application “Whatsapp”. Upon further investigation, it could be concluded that the majority of those contacts had been deleted prior to being sent to his daughter. One could also see that the defendant, to make certain contacts appear, had searched for certain words. For instance, one could see on the screenshots that the name “Moghis” had been written into the search bar and that 13 matches had appeared for the name “Moghisseh” (the alternate name used for Naserian). The prosecutor showed some of these matches and explained that all of them had been deleted from the phone. The defendant, or someone with his phone, had also searched for the word “prison” amongst his contacts, and “prison Teheran” as well as “prison Rajai Shahr” (the official name for Gohardasht prison).  

The prosecution then ended their complementary statements of facts and judge Zander informed that it was time for the complementary hearing with the defendant but that the two towers of books in front of the defendant would have to be moved or placed differently before the court could proceed with the hearing. The defendant complied and divided the books into four smaller piles instead. Judge Zander then gave the floor back to the prosecution.  

Complementary hearing with the defendant  

The prosecution began by asking the defendant to explain what had happened on 8 November 2019. “In Gods name…” the defendant had started before he proceeded to call out the prosecution for not having greeted him and for never having done so even though he would always greet them and that he would greet them today as well. The defendant then started talking about what a happy day this was for him and that it was a very special day, upon which prosecutor Kristina Lindhoff Carleson interrupted him and told him to answer the question. On 8 November 2019, the defendant explained he had done a lot of things. The prosecution, once again, demanded he answer the question in relation to the new evidence that had come to light. 

The defendant proceeded by not answering that specific question, but by explaining to the court that he was no foreigner to Europe and European countries. He had visited Europe and European countries each year, including Sweden, upon which judge Zander stopped him and said that the defendant  had  previously informed the court of all this. He instructed the defendant to be precise and that he had already been provided with numerous opportunities to explain his side to the court and that this hearing focused on the mentioned phone call that had been made on 8 November 2019. 

After judge Zander had firmly told him off, the defendant began explaining that he had deleted the mentioned phone numbers because he had been a guest at a particular person’s house, who in this report will be referred to as “H”. The defendant further explained that H had a habit of borrowing/taking his phone and going through his contacts. H used to then call them and bother them, the defendant added. H had done it several times before and the defendant knew, or at least suspected, that he would do it again. Thus, he had decided to delete all the contacts that the defendant suspected would be victim to H’s harassments. He had done the exact same thing every time he visited H, he explained, and he had done so for instance already in 2018. On 8 November 2019, the day before the trip to Sweden, where he would stay at H’s house as a guest, he had admittedly also deleted some contacts and sent them to his daughter. He had sent them to his daughter so that he would be able to retrieve the contacts when travelling back to Iran. When asked why he had deleted certain contacts and not others, and why he had searched for the word “prison”, the defendant explained that he had deleted a lot of contacts and only those who he believed that H would pick out and harass, for instance sensitive contacts. H had previously searched up and bothered his contacts from the judiciary and the prosecutor’s office and so the defendant knew that he had to delete those specific contacts. The defendant also made the point, several times, that the prosecution had been selective regarding which deleted contacts it chose to present. 

The prosecution then showed the court certain phone numbers that had been deleted and asked the defendant why he had chosen to delete those. Upon showing the different contacts found in the defendant’s phone, the defendant began calling out the prosecution for revealing the phone numbers to everyone and especially to the plaintiffs who had been his and Iran’s enemies. The defendant told the prosecution that they should have concealed or at least covered the numbers and not have shown them on the screen for everyone to see. Then, when asked about contacts containing the name “Haji Nayyeri Salehi Sadeghi”, which had been deleted, the defendant admitted that this was the same Nayyeri who was a judge and who had been mentioned several times during the trial. The contacts, however, were the phone numbers to Nayyeri’s office and to his home. He had deleted those numbers because he believed, as he had already told the court, that H would register those phone numbers and choose to harass them. H liked to discuss politics and things relating to the judiciary, the defendant explained, and since these names were “famous” he believed H would pick them out and so he had deleted them.   

The prosecution then asked the defendant about numerous other contacts that had been deleted from his phone, upon which the defendant explained that those had been his friends and colleagues from Evin prison. They had worked together at Evin prison because the defendant had only worked in Evin prison, he emphasized. He continued to emphasize throughout the hearing that he had only been to one prison and that it had been Evin prison. Every answer that the defendant had given and would give, was based on the fact that he had only been at Evin prison, he clarified. He had been there from the years 1361 to 1372, he added, and everyone who had worked there, he had contact with.  

Then the prosecution pointed out to the defendant that he himself had informed the court in a previous hearing that he had been warned not to travel to Sweden, and so they asked him if that was the reason for why he had deleted all those contacts from his phone book. The defendant denied this and explained that, if he had even for a second suspected that he would be arrested, he would have refrained from going to Sweden altogether. Even if he had had still chosen to go on the trip, he certainly would not have brought his phone with him, he added. He then noted that he was chocked that the prosecution would even ask such a question. This is evidence that the defendant was proud to present, he explained. It is evidence that would contribute to his acquittal and that this is why this day was the best day and why he had waited for this day for two and a half years, he said. 

The prosecution then questioned why the defendant, if he knew that H would take his phone and harass his contacts, would choose to stay with him and be his guest. Upon this, the defendant answered that it was a very good question. He described that he had, and still has, a lot of respect for H’s ex-wife and that she was going through a difficult time and that he had been a guest at their house at the time when they had still been a married couple. 

The prosecution then moved on to ask the defendant about one of the books written by Witness 17 about the mass executions in Gohardasht prison and whether he believed the things written in it to be true. For instance, the book mentions the executions, the questioning and even some of the names of the people executed, the prosecution told the court. It also says that Abbasi plays an active role in the so called “Death Committee” and the mass-executions. The defendant, who had brought the book with him, picked it up and started scrolling through it. The book, the defendant explained, was initially published in 2015 and another edition had been released after his arrest, which is totally different than the original one. The content of the book is nothing but lies and a made-up-story created by this “narcissist”, the defendant claimed. And they had all copied what this “narcissist” had written in his book. Judge Zander then had to interrupt the defendant and ask him to refrain from using such language.  

After looking into it further, the prosecution explained that the book in question did not have several editions but that it had only been published in one edition, but that the edition had been published in two different volumes. The first volume was published in 2015 and it was unclear when the second volume had been published. The defendant insisted that it had been published recently, after his arrest, and judge Zander then told the prosecution that they should look into it and then decided that they would return to the subject at a later time. The floor was then given to the plaintiff counsels. 

Lawyer Kenneth Lewis started by questioning the defendant as to why he had so many phone numbers to bodyguards in his phone book, for instance to Moghisseh’s/Naserian’s and Nayyeri’s bodyguards, which had been revealed by the new evidence presented by the prosecution. Rgearding Moghisseh/Naserian, he had been his boss, the defendant explained, and that was why he had the phone numbers to his bodyguards. This did not explain why he would have direct contact to his boss’ body guards, Lewis stated and demanded that the defendant answer his question. The defendant clarified that it was because he did not have Moghisseh’s/Naserian’s own phone number, which is why he had the phone numbers to his bodyguards. This was also the same reason for why he had the numbers to Nayyeri’s bodyguards, because he did not have Nayyeri’s own phone number. He was then asked about a couple more phone numbers and about why they were in his possession, upon which the defendant answered that he saved all the phone numbers of the people who he had been in contact with. For instance, the defendant explained, it is guaranteed that he will leave this place and when he leaves, he will save the phone numbers of all the participants of this trial. The participants of the court, all the lawyers, everyone, the defendant added, especially Kenneth Lewis’ number.  

Ignoring this, Lewis then moved on and asked the defendant if he had been to the island Kish the day before he had left for Sweden and at the time of emptying his phone. He had not been on Kish, the defendant responded. He had been in Teheran. He further added that he had not met with Moghisseh/Naserian on that particular day. Regarding the audio file on which Moghisseh/Naserian claims that he had met with the defendant, which had previously been presented to the court, the defendant explained that the recording was a falsification and that it consisted of several recordings which had been edited into one audio file. The defendant then informed the court that Moghisseh/Naserian was the one claiming that they had met and the court was in possession of Moghisseh’s/ Naserian’s phone number and thus could call him and ask him about the matter themselves. 

Plaintiff counsel Bengt Hesselberg then asked the defendant whether H lived with his wife at the time when the defendant was to visit him in Sweden. The defendant responded that they did not live together at that time and that he had planned on staying at H’s house. Hesselberg then asked if H had access to the defendant’s mobile password upon which the defendant proceeded to explain that his phone did not have a password made of letters or numbers but the kind of password you needed to draw on the screen. The defendant then picked up a-turned-off-iPad he had brought with him and held it up to the court to demonstrate the shape of his password with his finger on the screen. He explained that H did indeed know the password to his phone. 

The floor was then handed to the defense, who began by asking the defendant how many of his contacts were marked with the name “Rajai Shahr” (Gohardasht). A total of 10 contacts were marked with “Rajai Shahr”, the defendant responded. The defense then asked him how many contacts in total he had in his phone, upon which the defendant responded that his phone contained a total of 7291 contacts, out of which 252 were deleted. Out of these 252 deleted contacts, the prosecution had, in its new evidence that the complementary hearing was based on, found and revealed 220 of them. And out of these 7291 contacts, only 10 of them were marked with “Rajai Shahr”. A bit later in the hearing, plaintiff counsel Kenneth Lewis asked the defendant why he had these numbers from Gohardasht prison even though he had never worked there, upon which the defendant responded that he had gotten in touch with those people during the last 10-15 years. 

The defense further stated that they knew that the defendant, during his almost two and a half years in detention, had done nothing but read about the alleged events and the court files of the trial. He had also listened to about 80 people here in court. So, the defense proceeded to ask the defendant if he, somewhere in all of this material, had seen any of these 10 people marked with “Rajai Shahr” mentioned. They had not been mentioned in any of the material, the defendant confirmed. The defense then referred to a phone conversation that the defendant had been questioned about previously, where the name Raisi had been mentioned, and asked the defendant to explain who this “Raisi” was.  He was a friend from Evin prison who had been a guard (“pasdar”) just like himself, the defendant explained. The defense then pointed out that there was a contact in his phonebook named “Ettela Raisi Evin” which had been translated to “Ettela chief Evin” and asked him if it was the same person. It was the same person, but the translation was wrong, the defendant claimed. It did not say “Ettela chief Evin”, but “Atta Raisi Evin”. “Atta” was his friend’s first name he explained, and “Raisi” his last name, not the word for “chief/director”. The defense then asked the court interpreters to confirm or deny this, upon which they confirmed that the translation was indeed wrong and that it did not say “chief/director”. The defense proceeded to ask the defendant whether this meant that “Raisi” was a friend and colleague from Evin prison, and not Ebrahim Raisi who is the current president of Iran, which the defendant confirmed.  

The defense then asked the defendant if there were persons mentioned during the trial whose contact information could be found in his phone, for instance names like Arab, Adel, Eshraghi or Lashkari. The defendant responded that he had heard or read those names repeatedly during the 85 hearings and the 100 books and 50 000 up to 80 000 pages of court files that had read, and that not a single one of those names could be found in his contact list.  

The defense then moved on from the contact list and proceeded to ask the defendant about his length, and what attire the guards or the “dadyar” of the prisons usually wore during the time that he had worked there. The defendant was then given the opportunity to comment on an audio file of a speech by current president Ebrahim Raisi that had been played during a previous hearing and which the defendant had expressed the will to further comment on. This tape was God’s work, the defendant explained. For 33 years, fake stories had been made up and people had questioned why the Islamic regime did not answer those questions, he added. But after 30 years, a journalist had asked Raisi about the executions, upon which he had explained what had happened. And what he, the current president, had said is historical evidence, the defendant continued. The question for the people then became, according to the defendant, who to believe. “Does one trust the word of this person with this official role and high position in his country or does one believe Iran’s enemies?” he asked. Raisi’s speech was evidence provided by a representative for the Islamic regime, and one did not need to look further, he added. 

The defendant was then asked some further questions by the defense as well as some complementary questions by Kenneth Lewis before judge Zander ended the trial day.  

Next report   

In our next report, we will provide a summary of the hearing with Expert Witness 10. 

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