German court hears of ‘inhumane’ torture in Syria state prison
KOBLENZ- Agence France-Presse
Two alleged former Syrian intelligence officers went on trial in Germany on April 23 accused of crimes against humanity in the first court case worldwide over state-sponsored torture by Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Prime suspect Anwar Raslan, an alleged former colonel in Syrian state security, stands accused of carrying out crimes against humanity while in charge of the Al-Khatib detention center in Damascus.
The 57-year-old, who appeared in the dock wearing glasses and a mustache, is charged with overseeing the murder of 58 people and the torture of 4,000 others at the prison between April 29, 2011 and September 7, 2012.
Raslan remained expressionless as prosecutors listed the gruesome details of the torture he allegedly oversaw, which included “electric shocks”, beatings with “fists, wires and whips” and “sleep deprivation”.
Fellow defendant Eyad al-Gharib, 43, is accused of being an accomplice to crimes against humanity, having helped to arrest protesters and deliver them to Al-Khatib in the autumn of 2011. He appeared before the court in a hoodie, his face partially covered by a mask.
Like hundreds of thousands of other Syrians, the two men fled their country and applied for asylum in Germany, where they were arrested in February 2019.
They both declined to speak before the court, although Raslan’s lawyer said he would give a written statement shortly.
Raslan and Gharib are being tried on the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows a foreign country to prosecute crimes against humanity.
During the trial, held under high security and due to last until at least August, the court is expected to hear testimony from victims who survived imprisonment at Al-Khatib, before later escaping to Europe.
On April 23, the court heard an account of the appalling horrors suffered by 24 former Al-Khatib inmates, many of whom were arrested for taking part in pro-democracy demonstrations during the Arab Spring in 2011.