German Prosecutors Charge Syrian Atrocity Crime Suspects
NEW YORK—Federal prosecutors in Germany have filed charges against two former Syrian government intelligence officials accused of torture and other crimes against humanity, in a case that is part of a broad effort by Syrian and international civil society groups to secure justice for the victims of atrocity crimes in Syria.
The trial of the two men, identified as Anwar R. and Eyad A., is now expected to start early next year before the Higher Regional Court of Koblenz, Germany. It will be the first international trial focusing on the widespread use of torture by the regime of Syria’s President Bashir al-Assad.
The two defendants, whose surnames have been withheld under German privacy laws, were arrested in February on indictments that were developed with evidence and witness statements collected by Syrian and international human rights and law groups.
Anwar R. is the most senior former Syrian government official arrested so far in Europe. He was accused of complicity in the torture and abuse of at least 4,000 people between 2011 and 2012 in the General Intelligence Directorate's Al-Khatib Branch in Damascus, also known as Branch 251, resulting in the death of 58 people. Eyad A. faces charges of torture in at least thirty cases.
The Justice Initiative represents several individuals who were detained at Al-Khatib Branch and will seek to participate in the trial. The Justice Initiative worked closely the Commission for International Justice and Accountability to build the case dossier against Anwar R. as well as other senior officials from the Syrian government.