Senior Syrian intelligence officer sentenced to life in Germany for crimes against humanity, historic first

A former colonel of the Syrian intelligence services was sentenced, Thursday, January 13, by the German justice to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity in the framework of the first trial in the world linked to the abuses attributed to the regime of Bashar Al-Assad .

The Koblenz Regional High Court found Syrian Anwar Raslan, 58, guilty of the death of prisoners and the torture of thousands more in a secret power detention center in Damascus, between 2011 and 2012. The judges have retained the guilt of the former high-ranking official for the murder of 27 people in the detention center of Al-Khatib, also known as “branch 251”.

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This is the second conviction in this trial after that, in February 2021, of a former low-ranking Syrian intelligence agent, Eyad Al-Gharib, a former member of these intelligence services. “It’s really historic! “, commented the executive director of the NGO Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth.

Anwar Raslan remained silent throughout the trial

Almost eleven years after the start of the popular uprising in Syria, the concluding hearing was the first to examine crimes blamed on the Syrian regime and repeatedly documented by Syrian activists and NGOs. Germany applies the legal principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows a state to prosecute the perpetrators of the most serious crimes, regardless of their nationality and where they were committed.

In 2016, a United Nations (UN) commission of inquiry accused the Assad regime of“Exterminate” inmates. Anwar Raslan, who headed the investigation service of branch 251 of the sprawling Syrian security apparatus, remained silent throughout this long-running trial that began on April 23, 2020.

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In May 2020, however, his lawyers read a written statement in which the former officer denied his alleged involvement in the death and torture of detainees. An assertion he repeated at the beginning of January, by the reading of a new declaration by his interpreter, before the Court withdraws to deliberate.

Nearly 80 witnesses on the stand

Syrian activists carry photos of victims of the Syrian regime to the High Regional Court in Koblenz, Germany on January 13, 2022.

At least a dozen victims attended the verdict. Syrian families gathered early in the morning outside the court, holding banners and posters calling for ” Where are they ? “, in reference to their brothers and sisters who disappeared in Syrian detention centers.

More than 80 witnesses marched to the bar, including twelve deserters and many victims, who exposed the abuse endured in the unsanitary and crowded cells of this secret detention center: electric shocks, kicks and cables, etc. Some witnesses nevertheless refused to appear, others were heard with their faces hidden or wearing a wig for fear of reprisals against their relatives still in Syria.

For the first time, photos of “Caesar” were presented in a court. This ex-military photographer exfiltrated at the risk of his life more than 50,000 photos showing thousands of inmates who had been tortured. Another Syrian also testified to mass graves in which the bodies of dead detainees were buried.

In his indictment, the prosecutor, who had mentioned the historical responsibility of Germany, cited a survivor of the Holocaust. The conflict in Syria has claimed nearly 500,000 lives and pushed 6.6 million people into exile abroad.

The World with AFP

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Senior Syrian intelligence officer sentenced to life in Germany for crimes against humanity, historic first

The Inside News Hyderabad