Alleged members of Assad’s secret police arrested in Germany on suspicion of crimes against humanity
July 12, 2020 | News | No Comments
Three alleged former members of the Syrian secret police are being held in Germany and France in what are believed to be the first Western arrests of Assad regime officials on suspicion of torture, it emerged on Wednesday.
Two of the men are being held in Germany on suspicion of crimes against humanity, German prosecutors said in a statement.
A 42-year-old man named only as Eyad A under German privacy laws, is accused of being an accessory to the killing of two people and the torture and physical abuse of at least 2,000.
His 56-year-old former commanding officer, named only as Anwar R, is accused of general involvement in torture and physical abuse as a high-ranking officer in the Assad regime’s secret police.
A third unnamed man who served under Anwar R is being held in France as part of a coordinated operation, German prosecutors said.
The arrests follow months of concerted efforts by activists to bring about prosecutions over crimes committed in Syria’s civil war in the German courts, which claim worldwide jurisidiction over war crimes and crimes of humanity.
The two men held in Germany both claimed asylum there after fleeing Syria, and Anwar R appears to have made little effort to hide his past, according to German media reports.
Prosecutors allege he was a senior officer in the General Intelligence Directorate, the Assad regime’s main domestic security service, where he served as head of the regional investigation department for Damascus.
Prisoners held by the department “underwent brutal and intense torture during interrogation”, prosecutors said.
Eyad A is alleged to have served in a special unit tasked with identifying deserters, and anti-regime protestors. In the summer of 2011 he spent a month at a checkpoint in the outskirts of Damascus where around 100 people a day were arrested, taken to Anwar R’s prison and tortured.
He also took part in raids on homes and apartments, and the rounding up of fleeing demonstrators after the violent break-up of a protest in 2011.
In autumn 2011, following the violent break-up of a demonstration, he took part in the arrest of fleeing protestors.
Both men fled to Germany in 2012, and Anwar appears to have believed his decision to abandon the Assad regime would be enough to protect him, according to Spiegel magazine.
Six Syrian torture survivors were interviewed by German prosecutors as part of their investigations, according to the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, a Berlin NGO that campaigns for justice for victims of torture and other grave crimes.