The Hamid Noury Case: Legal and Political Perspectives
Notes & Changes
This event will run in a hybrid format. If you would like to attend in person, join us at the Law Board Room at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford (St Cross Building, St Cross Road, OX1 3UL, Oxford). If you would like to attend online, please register here. You will receive the meeting link on the day of the seminar.
On 28 July 1988, Ayatollah Khomenei issued a “fatwa” ordering the execution of leftist political prisoners held in Iranian jails. Ebrahim Raisi was appointed to Khomenei’s “death committee” to carry out the fatwa in Evin and Gohardasht prisons. Between August and September 1988 over 3000 political prisoners were massacred. No one has been prosecuted or convicted in Iran for these widely documented atrocities. Indeed, in the case of Raisi, he was promoted to Deputy Chief Justice, Attorney General, and then Chief Justice of Iran. Raisi is the current Iranian president.
Some three decades after the prison massacres, in October 2019, Kaveh Moussavi received information that Hamid Noury, an Iranian citizen, was due to travel to the European Union. It was alleged that Noury was suspected of involvement in the prison massacres, reporting directly to Raisi’s death committee in Gohardasht prison. Kaveh Moussavi, Dr Mooney, and a team of lawyers set to work on an intense investigation. In just three weeks, they compiled a dossier of evidence, and detailed legal representations, which was submitted to the Swedish War Crimes Unit and the Prosecutor General. As a result, on 9 November 2019, Noury was arrested on arrival at Stockholm’s Arlands Airport. Noury was subsequently indicted on charges of mass murder and crimes against international law, for his alleged part in the 1988 prison massacres. Hundreds of witnesses testified at Noury’s trial, between August 2020 and April 2021. The verdict is expected to be announced in July 2022.
At this event, the speakers will talk about international criminal law and universal jurisdiction principles, and the wider legal and political significance of the trial.
Rebecca Mooney is dual qualified as a solicitor advocate (1995), and barrister (Lincolns Inn, 2019). She practised as a litigation solicitor with several international law firms for over a decade, before returning to academe to undertake graduate research. Rebecca’s 2007 MSt thesis “The Civil Contingencies Act 2004: Constitutional Safety Net or Authoritarian Charter?” scrutinised the constitutional, human rights, and rule of law implications of UK emergency executive powers. Her DPhil thesis “Pre-charge detention of terrorist suspects and the right to liberty and security” (2011) interrogated the compatibility of counter-terrorism detention powers with liberal norms and human rights standards. Thereafter, Rebecca was a post-doctoral researcher, and then associate research fellow, at the Centre for Socio Legal Studies, undertaking extensive comparative research on class and collective actions. Rebecca has held lectureships in law at Somerville College, and Exeter College, in Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and European Union Law.
Rebecca returned to full-time legal practice in 2019. Her diverse practice includes human rights, international criminal law and universal jurisdiction cases, and complex multi-jurisdictional civil claims involving fraud, state corruption and linked human rights abuses. Significant recent cases include acting for the complainant in drafting representations and evidence to the Swedish War Crimes Unit and Prosecutor General, leading to the arrest and subsequent trial of Hamid Noury for alleged mass murder and crimes against international law.
Rebecca is a volunteer advisor supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and youth asylum seekers at Asylum Welcome, an Oxford charity. She is a trustee and governor of a leading music school, a board director of the English Sinfonia, and a founding trustee of Help.Group, a charity which is developing a digital platform to connect asylum seekers with essential support and advice. She is also a founding director and trustee of Ending Impunity, a charity which aims to pursue justice, accountability and redress for international crimes and systemic human rights abuses.
Kaveh Moussavi is a political scientist, academic lawyer, and international arbitrator. He studied at the universities of Leeds, London, Nice, and Oxford. His doctoral thesis “Authoritarian Politics and the Crisis of Political Participation, Iran 1963-1978” grounded a career-long interest in the relationships between politics, democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Over the past four decades, Kaveh has actively campaigned against capital punishment, systemic human rights abuses and numerous documented atrocities perpetrated by the Islamic Republic of Iran. He is widely recognised as an expert on Iranian politics, and the phenomena of serious organised crime and corruption, and frequently appears as a commentator in the international media (BBC Persian, CNBC, CBS, Iran International, Manato TV, Radio Liberty, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, The Guardian, The Times, Financial Times, Washington Post, Le Monde, Forbes, and others).
A current member of Wolfson College, Kaveh has a long-standing association with the University of Oxford. He undertook research at the Middle East Centre at St Anthony’s College between 1978 and 1988. Between 2003 and 2009, at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Kaveh was the founding Head of the Law Faculty’s Public Interest Law programme, which later became Oxford Pro Bono Publico. During that period, Kaveh organised two significant conferences on Guantanamo Bay, and the habeas corpus rights of Guantanamo detainees. The conferences were followed by the seminal judgments of the US Supreme Court in Rasoul v Bush and Hamdan v Rumsfeld. He was also actively involved in programmes assisting death penalty appeals, with Reprieve, and other NGOs. Kaveh has been a judge in several rounds of the Monroe E Price Media Law Moot Court Competition. Kaveh was an associate fellow at the Centre for Socio Legal Studies from 2009 to 2015.
Beyond Oxford, Kaveh has been involved in numerous legal cases involving Iran’s human rights violations. He was instrumental in securing the arrest of Iranian Hamid Noury in Sweden in 2019, on suspicion of mass murder and crimes against international law. He served as an expert witness on Iranian law for the plaintiffs in The Estate of Zahra Kazemi v The Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Saeed Mortazavi, and Mohammad Bakhshi 2011 QCCS 196. Amongst other international work, Kaveh has been an election observer for international missions, including in Venezuela as International Election Observer on behalf of the UN, and in Turkey, for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Kaveh was a founding board member of the Iran Transition Council and served as the ITC’s Senior Adviser on Judicial Affairs until 2020. He sits as an arbitrator in numerous commercial arbitration cases, at the ICC’s International Court of Arbitration, and the London Court of International Arbitration. He is a founding director and trustee of Ending Impunity, a non-profit organisation dedicated to securing justice and accountability for grave international crimes and systemic human rights abuses.