Landmark verdict against Syrian ex-officer

The Higher Regional Court in Koblenz, Germany, on Feb. 24 convicted a former officer of Syria's General Intelligence Directorate, Eyad A., on charges of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity—specifically, torture and deprivation of liberty committed against 30 persons. Eyad received a sentence of four years and six months in prison for his role in arresting people who were later tortured. The 30 persons, who were all civilians, had been participating in anti-government protests in Douma in 2011 when they were rounded up and sent by bus to Branch 251, or the al-Khatib detention center in Damascus. At Branch 251, they suffered grave physical, emotional and psychological abuse, in addition to being subjected to inhumane and degrading conditions. The court stated that "Eyad A. had already known about the regular and systematic torture in the prison of department 251 when the demonstrators were arrested... He also expected that the torture was part of a planned, organized action by the government to suppress opposition forces."

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 88,000 civilians have died as a result of torture in state-run prisons and detetnion centers since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution nearly 10 years ago. The Syrian Network for Human Rights estimates that 130,000 people are currently held in detention centers.

The verdict in Koblenz marks the first time that a court anywhere in the world has ruled on torture inflicted by the Syrian regime, and it sets the stage for the prosecution of high-ranking officers. The trial of the officer who headed Branch 251, Anwar Raslan, is pending before the same court in Germany.

From Jurist, Feb. 26. Used wth permission.

Note: The Assad regime is now credibly accused of genocide, as well as war crimes and crimes against humanity. Critics have decried that in the case of Eyad A, it is a low-ranking officer that was charged. A group of Syrian refugees have announced that they are preparing to bring war crimes charges against dictator Bashar Assad before the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Netherlands court convicts Syrian refugee of war crimes

The District Court of The Hague on July 16 convicted Friday Ahmad al-Kehdr, a Syrian asylum-seeking and former rebel, of war crimes and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

The court possessed video evidence of al-Khedr participating in the execution of a Syrian military official in 2012. Al-Khedr was prosecuted under universal jurisdiction law, which authorizes the Netherlands to pursue charges for genocide, war crimes, and human rights violations even if the crime took place elsewhere in the world. (Jurist)

German court sentences two Syrians for war crimes

The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court in Germany on Aug. 26 sentenced two Syrian nationals on war crime and terrorism-related charges. Khedr AK was given a life sentence, mainly for participating the execution of a Syrian army officer official and membership in a foreign terrorist organization. His co-defendant, Sami AS, was sentenced to nine years in prison for filming the crime and preparing the footage for use as propaganda, as well as for supporting a foreign terrorist organization.

Khedr AK joined the Ghurabaa Muhassan group in the Syrian town of Muhassan in 2012. The group was an affiliate of Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda. Khedr was proved to have been one of the people who guarded a captured Syrian lieutenant colonel's transfer to the banks of the Euphrates for execution. The officer was a "protected person" under international humanitarian law. The court had heard as a witness Khedr AK’s brother, Ahmad al Khedr; last month, a Netherlands court convicted Ahmad of war crimes for firing several shots at the victim. (Jurist, Courthouse News)

German court sentences another Syrian for war crimes

Germany's Federal Court of Justice announced it decision to reject a former Syrian rebel's appeal of his conviction for war crimes, attempted homicide, torture, and membership in ISIS. The Stuttgart Higher Regional Court sentenced Fares AB to 12 years in November. He is accused of participating in the execution of a captive pro-regime fighter in 2012, and of joining ISIS two years later. (Jurist)