Life sentence for a senior member of the Assad regime sets a precedent for further trials
The charges included 27 counts of murder as well as torture and rape of prisoners at the Syrian Intelligence Service’s al-Khatib detention center between 2011 and 2012.
Germany’s universal jurisdiction laws allow its courts to prosecute crimes against humanity committed outside its borders. Like hundreds of thousands of Syrians, Mr. Raslan, 58, lived as a refugee in Germany.
The decision comes after several members of the Islamic State were sentenced for crimes against humanity committed against members of the Yazidi religious minority in Syria and Iraq, and reinforces Germany’s role as the country where Syria is located. Legal precedent is set on crimes committed throughout the Middle East. Conflict.
Several other cases involving similar charges against both Assad officials and rebels are being heard in German courts.
During the Koblenz trial, witnesses told the court how prisoners were brutally beaten, raped and electrocuted under Mr. Ruslan’s orders.
“This verdict is important for all Syrians who have suffered and are still suffering from the crimes of the Assad regime,” said al-Khatib Detention Center survivor Ruham Hawash and joint plaintiffs in the case against Mr. Raslan.
The United Nations estimated last year that at least 350,209 people had died in the 10-year war in Syria, although officials cautioned that the figure, which includes only victims whose identities have been established, was underestimated.
Initiatives to establish an international tribunal for Syria have so far failed, and Western attempts to use a UN court to prosecute civil war-related crimes were vetoed by Russia and China.
Balkis Jarrah, associate director of international justice for Human Rights Watch, said: “More than 10 years after the violations were committed in Syria, the German court’s decision is a long-awaited glimmer of hope that justice can and will finally prevail. ” “Other countries should follow Germany’s lead, and try actively to prosecute serious crimes in Syria.”
The same court had last year sentenced a junior officer to more than four years in prison for abetting torture against civilians.
Representatives of some plaintiffs complained that the hearing was hampered by inadequate witness protection safeguards, poor translation services and the court’s decision to ban the recording of proceedings.
“As the first test to establish whether crimes against humanity were committed in Syria, this trial is a cornerstone for international justice,” said counsel for five joint plaintiffs with the Open Society Justice Initiative, an NGO and Representative Anna Ohmichen said.
“As such, it has missed an opportunity that the court refused the recording of this trial for academic and historical purposes, so that there would be no official documentation of what was actually said. A loss for academics.”
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