January 26, 2022

a former Syrian intelligence colonel sentenced to life for crimes against humanity

The High Regional Court of Koblenz recognized Thursday Anwar Raslan guilty of the death and torture of prisoners in a secret detention center in Damascus, between 2011 and 2012. A historic verdict, which condemns atrocities committed by the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

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A former colonel of the Syrian intelligence services was sentenced to life imprisonment by German justice, Thursday, January 13, in the framework of the first trial in the world linked to the abuses attributed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The Koblenz Regional High Court found Anwar Raslan guilty of the death and torture of prisoners in a secret detention center in Damascus, between 2011 and 2012. This is the second conviction in this trial after the one in February. 2021, from a former less senior Syrian intelligence agent.

Magistrates have found Anwar Raslan guilty of a crime against humanity for the murder of 27 people in the Al-Khatib detention center, also known as branch 251. Almost eleven years after the start of the popular uprising in Syria, this hearing was the first to examine the crimes attributed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and repeatedly documented by Syrian activists and NGOs. In 2016, a UN commission of inquiry accused the Syrian authorities of“exterminate” inmates.

Anwar Raslan, who headed the investigation service of branch 251 of the sprawling Syrian security apparatus, remained silent throughout this river trial which began on April 23, 2020. Thursday morning, he listened to the verdict, translated into Arabic, without apparent emotion. In May 2020, however, his lawyers read a written statement in which the former officer denied his alleged involvement in the death and torture of detainees. An assertion he repeated in early January, via the reading of a new statement by his interpreter, before the Court withdrew to deliberate.