Hossein-Ali Nayyeri

Position at the time of 1988 massacre: Head of Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Courts; Shari’a judge; and head of the “Death Commission” in Tehran

Present post and occupation: Head of the Supreme Disciplinary Court for Judges

Nayyeri was appointed as the Head of the “Death Commission” in Tehran upon the order of Iran’s then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

His name is the first to appear in the list of ‘judges’ appointed to the Tehran Death Commission on Khomeini’s handwritten fatwa ordering the 1988 massacre. At the time, he was Head of Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Courts.

According to Iran’s former Deputy Supreme Leader Hossein-Ali Montazeri, the order was issued on 26 July 1988 and states in part:

“[T]hose in prisons throughout the country who remain steadfast in their support for the Monafeqin [PMOI] are waging war on God and are condemned to execution”.

“The task of implementing the decree in Tehran is entrusted to Hojjatol-Eslam Nayyeri, the Shari’a Judge, Mr. Eshraqi, the Tehran prosecutor, and a representative of the Intelligence Ministry”.

Reliable sources indicate that the “Death Commission” started its work in Tehran’s Evin prison on 28 July 1988. The commission operated in both Evin and Gohardasht prisons. It is reported that they used helicopters to commute rapidly between Evin and Gohardasht to issue death sentences.

In later years, Nayyeri was appointed Head of the Supreme Disciplinary Court for Judges and a Vice President of the Supreme Court.

UPDATE, July 2022: 

Hossein-Ali Nayyeri, the former Head of the Tehran Death Commission, has after 34 years broken his silence and defended the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran with total impunity.

Nayyeri stated his position in an interview with the state entity Islamic Revolution Documents Center (IRDC), published on 9 July 2022.

Asked about the mass executions of 1988, Nayyeri stated: “In such critical circumstances, what were we to do? We had to hand down verdicts decisively. He who is running the court and dealing with the cases has to resolve the cases. In such circumstances, we cannot run the country by offering them hugs and kisses!”

Nayyeri went on to vilify the victims by claiming they had staged riots in prisons. He added: “The atmosphere of the prison was in their hands and therefore new conspiracies were at work.”

“If it wasn’t for Imam [Khomeini]’s decisiveness, maybe we wouldn’t have this security at all,” he said in the interview. “Maybe the situation would have been different. Perhaps the Islamic Republic would not have survived at all.”

Translation of Nayyeri’s interview with IRDC: https://iran1988.org/top-iranian-judiciary-official-defends-1988-massacre/