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Syria’s Assad regime on trial in Europe



Syria’s Assad regime on trial in Europe

A growing number of cases are being brought in Europe, and especially in Germany, against those loyal to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on allegations of state-sponsored torture.

In the most recent case, a court in the German city of Koblenz is set to rule on Thursday on the case of former Syrian intelligence agent Anwar Raslan, accused of crimes against humanity, for which prosecutors are demanding life imprisonment.

In February 2021, the court jailed a former junior Syrian intelligence agent, Eyad al-Gharib, for being an accessory to crimes against humanity in the world’s first prosecution for the abuses.

Here is a snapshot of the cases:

Germany has used the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows a foreign country to prosecute crimes against humanity, including war crimes and genocide, regardless of where they were committed, after receiving complaints from Syrians claiming to have been tortured in regime prisons. .

In March 2017, seven Syrian torture survivors and a human rights group filed a criminal complaint in Germany against Syrian secret service officials.

Later that year, nearly 27,000 photographs taken by a former Syrian military photographer known as Caesar, who documented torture and death in the regime’s prisons, were also turned over to German courts, according to the German human rights group ECCHR.

In November 2017, the ECCHR announced that 13 Syrians had filed two new complaints for crimes against humanity and war crimes for alleged acts of torture.

Seven other Syrian men and women who claimed to have suffered or witnessed rape and sexual abuse in Assad’s detention centers also filed a complaint with German prosecutors, the group revealed in June 2020.

They named nine senior government and air force intelligence officials, including Syrian senior intelligence officer Jamil Hassan, who is already the subject of an international arrest notice.

The trial of a Syrian doctor accused of torture, murder and crimes against humanity will begin in Frankfurt on January 19.

In September 2015, a Paris prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation against the Assad regime for crimes against humanity over allegations of kidnapping and torture.

The following July, the family of a Syrian doctor who died in a government prison filed a complaint in Paris for his torture and murder.

Another French court opened an investigation in 2016 into the disappearance of Mazen Dabbagh and his son Patrick, two Franco-Syrian nationals who had been arrested in Syria three years earlier.

France issued its first international arrest notices for Syrian intelligence officials in 2018 for “complicity in acts of torture” related to the case, as well as “complicity in crimes against humanity” and “complicity in war crimes.”

The orders were for National Security Office director Ali Mamluk, Air Force Intelligence chief Jamil Hassan and Abdel Salam Mahmoud, who was in charge of the Air Force Intelligence investigative branch in Damascus.

In April 2021, three NGOs that had filed civil complaints succeeded in opening an investigation into the chemical attacks in 2013 attributed to the Syrian government. The case, already filed in Germany, was filed on behalf of the victims of the 2013 attack and a 2017 sarin gas attack.

In December 2021, a Franco-Syrian man was jailed on suspicion of supplying the Syrian army with material that could be used to make chemical weapons.

It is the first time someone has been accused in France of supporting Assad’s troops, judicial officials said.

Other countries
In July 2017, a Spanish court rejected a complaint filed by a Spanish woman of Syrian origin against nine Syrian government officials for the forced detention, torture and alleged execution of her brother in 2013.

Legal proceedings have also been launched in Austria, Norway and Sweden, which in 2017 was the first country to convict a former soldier of war crimes.

In Sweden, four NGOs filed a complaint in April 2021 against Assad and several senior officials following two chemical attacks in 2013 and 2017.

UN mechanism
In 2016, the United Nations established its International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, which is preparing war crimes charges against individuals for the Syrian conflict.

Since April 20, the agency has been collecting evidence to use in potential future trials.

Source Credit: TheGuardian

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