Report 44: The proceedings in the Court of Appeal are initiated

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

The following report will provide a summary of events that have taken place in the proceedings against the defendant since the verdict of the District Court on 14 July 2022, until the initiation of the proceedings in Svea Court of Appeal on 11 January 2023.

The appeal by the defendant

On 11 January 2023, proceedings against the defendant were initiated at Svea Court of Appeal following the appeal of the verdict issued by Stockholm District Court on 14 July 2022 by the defendant on 25 July and by the prosecution on 10 August 2022.

Through his lawyers, the defendant appealed the decision and requested, as a first ground, that the case be ruled inadmissible, arguing that the Court had lacked jurisdiction to sentence him. As a second ground, the defendant requested that the case be dismissed on its merits and argued that the District Court had assessed the evidence wrongfully with the result that the defendant had wrongfully been convicted of the crime. As a third ground, the defendant requested that the prison sentence be converted into a fixed term sentence and argued that the sentence was too severe.

The defendant further requested that prosecution’s request to deport him (after the end of his prison term) is dismissed and that all the requests for damages be dismissed.  

The cross-appeal by the prosecution

The prosecution issued a cross-appeal in which it requested, in relation to both the first charge concerning war crimes and the second charge concerning murder, that the Court of Appeal also sentence the defendant for having guarded the prisoners who were brought to the so-called death corridor. Regarding the first charge of war crimes, the prosecution also requested that the Court of Appeal sentence the defendant for having submitted oral or written information about the prisoners to the so-called death committee. As a ground for its request, the prosecution argued that the District Court had wrongfully assessed the evidence in the case concerning these acts.

The prosecution further requested, in relation to the first charge (war crimes), that the Court of Appeal would sentence the defendant for his contribution to the execution of a prisoner for which the District Court had found there was not enough evidence to sentence him. The prosecution argued that the District Court in its verdict had wrongfully claimed that there was no oral evidence concerning that specific prisoner, and that the testimony of Plaintiff 1 in the District Court in conjunction with the written evidence was detailed and robust enough to prove that the defendant had contributed to the execution of that prisoner.

New defense counsels

Shortly after the appeal was submitted by the defense counsels, the defendant requested on 5 August 2022 that a new defense counsel be appointed for him, as he was not happy with the two defense counsels that had represented him before the District Court.

The Court of Appeal first denied the defendant’s request, with the argument that the counsel which the defendant had requested did not have previous experience of cases as comprehensive as the current one and that it would not be appropriate for him to represent the defendant as a sole counsel. However, the Court eventually granted the defendant’s request, and two other lawyers were appointed for the defendant on 13 September 2022: Thomas Bodström, who served as Minister of Justice in Sweden between 2000-2006, and Hanna Rampe.

The trial plan

The trial was initiated on 11 January 2023 and will be ongoing until after the summer of 2023. As a general rule, the Court of Appeal will not conduct new hearings with witnesses and plaintiffs who have given their testimony in the District Court unless there is a reason to hear them again. Therefore, the Court of Appeal will spend most of the coming months behind closed doors watching video recordings of the testimonies that were given throughout the proceedings in Stockholm District Court. The recordings of the testimonies will be approached by the Court of Appeal in different blocks following an introduction to the block by the prosecution, the defense counsels, and the plaintiff counsels. A new block is approached, preceded by oral introductions by the prosecution and the counsels, approximately once a month during the coming months.

The first three weeks of the trial, prior to the Court of Appeal’s encounter with the first block of recorded testimonies, was dedicated to an introduction to the case by the prosecution, the defense counsels, and the plaintiff counsels.

The Court of Appeal is using a high security court room in Attunda District Court, where the trial is physically taking place.

Next report

In the next report, we will describe the opening of the trial and summarise the introductory arguments by the prosecution, which took place on 11, 12, 13 and 18 January 2023.