The Syrian regime is targeted by several lawsuits in Europe

Several lawsuits launched in Europe target the Syrian regime, especially in Germany, where the judiciary is moving against abuses documented by non-governmental organizations and testimonies of fugitives.

On Thursday, the Koblenz Court issues its verdict in the case of the former officer in the Syrian intelligence, Anwar Raslan, accused of committing “crimes against humanity.” The Public Prosecution demanded that he be imprisoned for life.

This trial, which was divided into two parts at the beginning of the year, on February 24, resulted in the conviction of a former member of the intelligence services, but of a lower rank, on the charge of “complicity in crimes against humanity,” the first conviction of its kind.

In Germany, judicial complaints from Syrians who claim that they have been tortured in the regime’s prisons have multiplied, knowing that Berlin applies the legal principle of universal jurisdiction that allows its judiciary to prosecute perpetrators of serious crimes, regardless of their nationality or the place where the crimes were committed.

In March 2017, seven Syrians, the majority of whom are refugees, filed legal complaints in Germany against officials of the Syrian intelligence services.

In September, about 27,000 photos were presented to the court in the context of the “Caesar” case, the name given to a former Syrian military police photographer who fled his country with 50,000 photos documenting the brutal killing of thousands of Syrian detainees after they starved and were subjected to various types of torture.

Two months later, 13 Syrians submitted two new complaints about torture.

In June 2020, the German non-governmental organization ECCHR announced that seven Syrians who were tortured or who witnessed rape and sexual assaults in regime detention centers had filed a lawsuit.

This lawsuit specifically targets nine senior officials in the government and the Air Force Intelligence, including the former head of the agency, Jamil Hassan, who is close to President Bashar al-Assad.

Hassan, against whom Germany and France issued two international arrest warrants, led Air Force Intelligence until 2019.

And at the end of July 2021, the German judiciary charged a former Syrian doctor in Homs Military Prison with committing humanitarian crimes for his involvement in torturing detainees. His trial will begin in Frankfurt on January 19.

In September 2015, the Paris Public Prosecution opened a preliminary investigation on suspicion of committing “crimes against humanity” against the backdrop of kidnappings and torture carried out by the regime.

In July 2016, the family of a 37-year-old doctor who died in one of the regime’s prisons filed a judicial complaint in Paris accusing the regime of torturing and killing him.

At the end of October, an investigation was opened to reveal the circumstances of the disappearance of two Syrians with French citizenship in Syria in 2013, and there has been no news of them since.

According to the complainants, members of the Air Force Intelligence arrested Mazen Dabbagh and his son Patrick.

In November 2018, a French investigative judge issued international arrest warrants for three senior Syrian regime officials on suspicion of involvement in the transgression of these two citizens.

The three defendants in this case are the former head of the "General Intelligence", Ali Mamlouk, who later became the head of the National Security Bureau, and Jamil Hassan, and the director of the Bab Touma (Damascus) branch of the "Air Force Intelligence" Abd al-Salam Mahmoud.

In April 2021, a judicial investigation was opened into chemical attacks that occurred in 2013 and were attributed to the regime, based on complaints submitted by three NGOs.

These organizations had lodged similar complaints in Germany about these attacks and a sarin gas attack in 2017.

At the end of December, a French-Syrian was accused of providing the Syrian army with materials that could be used in the manufacture of chemical weapons.

It is the first time that an accusation has been brought, as part of an investigation in France, of allegedly supporting the Syrian regime forces, according to a source close to the file.

Complaints were also submitted in Austria, Norway and Sweden, which in 2017, became the first country to convict a former member of the regime's forces of war crimes.

In Sweden, in April 2021, four NGOs filed judicial complaints against the Syrian President and a number of senior regime officials, following two chemical attacks that occurred in 2013 and 2017.

In Spain, the judiciary rejected a lawsuit filed by a woman of Syrian origin against nine senior regime officials accusing them of forcible detention, torturing and liquidating her brother in 2013.

An “international mechanism tasked with facilitating investigations into the most serious violations of international law” committed as of March 2011 continues its work to collect evidence to facilitate the prosecution of those involved.

The United Nations established this mechanism at the end of 2016.

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