Syrian Officer Sentenced to Life In Prison for Crimes Against Humanity During Civil War

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A former colonel of the Syrian intelligence service was sentenced to life in prison in a court in Koblenz, Germany, for crimes against humanity.

 

This is the world’s first trial for abuses attributed to Bashar al-Assad’s regime during the civil war in his country.

Anwar Raslan, 58, is believed to have been responsible for the torture of at least 4,000 people and the death of 30 of them in a secret prison in Damascus between 2011 and 2012. He was tried in Germany under so-called universal jurisdiction: prosecution of crimes against humanity, wherever they have been committed.

The trial of Raslan and co-defendant Eyad al-Gharib began in April 2020. The latter, also a former member of the Syrian secret service, was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison in February last year for crimes against humanity.

Human rights organization Human Rights Watch sees the ruling as a beacon of hope in the fight for justice in Syria. “The verdict is a breakthrough for Syrian victims and the German justice system to break the wall of impunity.”

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