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Syria, life imprisonment in Germany for torturer of the Assad regime

from Marta Serafini

Anwar Raslan sentenced to life imprisonment, accused of crimes against humanity. The trial in Koblenz is the first in which a former soldier from Damascus is at the bar

Life in prison for former Syrian colonel Anwar Raslan, accused of crimes against humanity. The sentence today in Koblenz, where the trial began just under two years ago.

Raslan responsible for torturing 4,000 people during the Syrian civil war between 2011 and 2012 and for 58 murders and rape. The Koblenz trial is the first criminal case in the world involving a member of the Syrian regime

Many of the nearly 800,000 Syrians now living in Germany have testified against Raslan. German human rights lawyers supported their case, using the principle of universal jurisdiction to take the case to court. It allows us to try serious crimes committed in a country elsewhere. Wolfgang Kaleck, head of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights who led the case, says it is difficult to talk about justice as hundreds of thousands of people have been tortured and tens of thousands have died as a result.

Colonel Raslan, now 58, was arrested in Berlin in 2019. He had been in Germany for five years, arriving with his family as a political refugee after being helped to escape by influential opposition members in exile. These same opponents to the Assad regime had even credited him for participating in the UN-mediated Geneva peace talks in 2014.. In 2013, exiled opponents were persuaded by Colonel Raslan to sneak him out of Syria to Turkey in exchange for secret information on Damascus’ power structure. The information, never provided by Raslan, was supposed to help the opposition bring Assad down. Rai’s, on the other hand, remained in power, thanks above all to the decisive support of Russia and Iran. And in last year’s presidential election he was reconfirmed for another seven years, until 2028.

Last February, the Koblenz court sentenced Eyad Gharib to four and a half years in prison, a low-ranking member of the Damascus repression services and linked to Department 251 headed by Raslan. Gharib was found guilty of complicity in committing crimes against humanity.

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