Syrian doctor held in Germany for ‘crimes against humanity’

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group estimates that at least 100,000 people have died from torture or as a result of horrific conditions in government prisons. (File/AFP)
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Updated 22 June 2020

Syrian doctor held in Germany for ‘crimes against humanity’

  • Alaa M. is accused of torturing a detainee at a prison run by Syrian intelligence services in 2011
  • He was arrested in Hesse and remains in pre-trial detention

BERLIN: A Syrian doctor living in Germany has been arrested on suspicion of crimes against humanity in his country of origin, prosecutors said Monday in the latest German move against suspected war crimes in Syria.
The suspect, identified as Alaa M., is accused of having “tortured a detainee ... in at least two cases” at a prison run by Syrian intelligence services in the city of Homs in 2011, said German federal prosecutors in a statement.
He was arrested in the state of Hesse on Friday and remains in pre-trial detention.
Alaa M. was called to the assistance of a man who had suffered an epileptic fit after being detained for taking part in a protest, the statement said.
He then proceeded to beat the man with a plastic pipe. “Even after he had gone down, Alaa M. continued the beatings and additionally kicked the victim,” prosecutors said.
The next day, Alaa M. and another doctor allegedly subjected the victim to further beatings. He later died, though the cause of death is unclear.
According to Spiegel magazine, the victim’s family found his body with bloody wounds on his face and holes in his skull.
Alaa M. left Syria in mid-2015 and moved to Germany, where he also practiced as a doctor.
Syria’s civil war, which started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests, has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced nearly half the country’s pre-conflict population.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group estimates that at least 100,000 people have died from torture or as a result of horrific conditions in government prisons.
Half a million people have gone through Syrian jails since 2011, it says.
Several thousand people have died over the same period in prisons run by jihadists or other rebel groups, according to the Observatory.
Having taken in more than 700,000 Syrian refugees since the start of the conflict, Germany has become a sometimes surreal theater where victims of torture come face to face with their erstwhile torturers.
In April, the first court case worldwide over state-sponsored torture by Bashar Assad’s regime opened in Germany — after the suspects were brought to the notice of the authorities by their victims.
The two defendants, former Syrian intelligence officers Anwar Raslan and Eyad Al-Gharib, are being tried on the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows a foreign country to prosecute crimes against humanity.
Last week, seven Syrians who allegedly suffered or witnessed rape and sexual abuse in detention centers under Assad’s government submitted a criminal complaint to prosecutors in Germany.
The four women and three men were held in various detention centers in Damascus, Aleppo and Hama between April 2011 and August 2013, according to the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), a Berlin-based legal group.
They were all victims or witnesses of torture and sexual violence, including rape, “electrical shocks to the genitals... and forced abortion,” the ECCHR said.
They have named nine senior government and air force intelligence officials, including top Syrian intelligence officer Jamil Hassan, already the subject of an international arrest warrant.


Lebanon records new coronavirus infection high

Updated 1 min 5 sec ago

Lebanon records new coronavirus infection high

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s number of new coronavirus infections increased for a third consecutive day to a record 86, the government said on Saturday.
Lebanon has recorded 2,168 infections and 36 deaths since February.
Health Minister Hamad Hassan told Reuters on Friday the spike was partly due to expatriates who came after the airport was reopened on July 1. One infected 12 people at a wedding and another infected 12 at a funeral, he said.
A second cluster of infections had appeared among nurses and doctors and a third among refuse collectors, he said.