Press release

Dates Announced for Trial of Anwar R., Syrian Official Accused of War Crimes

March 10, 2020
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NEW YORK—A Higher Regional Court in Koblenz, Germany, has scheduled the trial of Anwar R., a former official of Syria’s General Intelligence Directorate accused of crimes against humanity, to begin on April 23, 2020. This will be the most important Syria atrocity trial to date, with Anwar R. being the highest-ranking regime official to stand trial so far.

The Open Society Justice Initiative welcomes this trial as an important breakthrough in accountability for crimes perpetrated by Syria’s regime. “This trial demonstrates that accountability for Syrian regime atrocities is possible,” said Open Society Justice Initiative Executive Director James Goldston. “This trial will reveal unconscionable horrors endured by survivors of systematic torture. We must remember that many remain trapped in the Assad regime’s hell, and the criminality of those responsible. This trial is an important start, but Syria needs more comprehensive accountability.”

The accusations pertain to the period between the end of April 2011 and the beginning of September 2012, when Anwar R. is alleged to have led the investigations section at the General Intelligence Directorate branch responsible for the interrogation of high-level political detainees. He has been accused of complicity in torture and other forms of physical abuse and faces trial alongside a lower-ranking official of this branch, Eyad A.

The Justice Initiative has supported the legal proceedings by collaborating with the non-governmental Commission for International Justice and Accountability to build criminal dossiers against Anwar R. and other senior regime officials. The Justice Initiative will represent at least four victim witnesses in the case. 

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