Syria, a “Sanctuary” for Justice Evading Criminals
“The officer, of whom I received guidance is known by the name (Haji), with a lieutenant’s rank,” this was the confession of Yousef Nazik, accused of the bombing of the Reyhanlı province, southern Turkey, while he stood the trial before the Ninth Criminal Court in Turkey.
After the Turkish intelligence services captured Nazik in an operation, described as “quality” at the Syrian city of Lattakia on September 12, he was transported from Lattakia to Turkey through safe routes and was investigated, admitting that he new of the bombing’s preparations, but what he did not know that it was to be implemented within the Turkish borders, for he though that the bombing was to take place in an area controlled by the “Syrian Free Army,” as he put it.
The last think to be expected by Nazik was being captured inside Syria, in the city of Lattakia in particular, the principal stronghold of the Syrian regime; he also never expected that the Syrian regime will not mention his arrest officially, for it was neither negated nor confirmed, in the shadow of his confession of taking a part in planning for the bombing, in cooperation with the Syrian regime’s intelligence services and for its interest.
Lawyer Yaser al-Sayed, Syrian and informed of criminal and military courts, tells Enab Baladi that “Syria is one of the countries which signed the “Interpol” (International Criminal Police Organization) treaty and is supposed to abide by its terms. However, what is going on is that criminals are escaping to the regime-controlled areas, and it is not admitting their presence on its territories, which violets the treaty’s terms.”
Nazik was not the first and is not the last to escape to Syria, for he was preceded by other people, involved in criminal and security related cases, who found in the chaos and the rapture in the relationships connecting the regime and a large number of countries a safe sanctuary, as sometimes the absence of official coordination prevents their delivery to the countries’ persecuting them.
The “Interpol” Treaty Partially Activated
Though Syria has been a member of the “Interpol” organization with other 191, it did not activate its own “Interpol” division, which functions under the Ministry of Interior according to the addressed case. The “Interpol” aims to facilitate the international cooperation between police systems even when diplomatic relations do not exist among specific countries.
The cooperation takes place within the frame of the laws imposed in the different countries and taking into consideration the international human rights conventions.
The Organization’s principal law prevents any action or move that has a “political, military, religious or a raciest pattern.”
Criminal Violations and Syria as a Sanctuary
Mo’ayad, a lawyer in Damascus courts, who preferred that his full name not be mentioned, explains the arrest of the Syrian woman and her Lebanese husband who committed the crime of killing a Filipino servant, who worked for them in Kuwait.
The lawyer told Enab Baladi that “after the Lebanese Nader Assaf and his Syrian wife Muna Hasson escaped Kuwait to Syria, fearing their involvement in making bounced checks; they hid in Syria. And thy were not arrested there because bounced checks are not of the crimes that call for the Interpol’s intervention.”
Nonetheless, when the servant’s body was found in the house’s fridge one and half a year after their departure; they were sentenced to death in absentia in Kuwait early in 2018, and they were arrested by the Syrian security forces. The Lebanese husband was deported to his country to stand trial there, while the Syrian police kept hold of the wife.
This procedure falls under the application of the “Interpol” Organization’s treaty’s terms, according to lawyer Mo’ayad.
At the same time, one of the al-Assad’s family members in Syria, Waseem Badee al-Assad, a relative of the head of the Syrian regime, who is known for leading a militia, undertaking killing as a profession during the Syrian war, has posted pictures on his “Facebook” page of himself and one of the most famous Lebanese drug dealers, Noah Zaiter, while in Homs.
While Zaiter makes no secret of the many crimes he committed, including cultivating and dealing in drugs and that he is legally prosecuted, the pictures posted by Waseem al-Assad had no echoes at the Syrian authorities.
Following talks about a Lebanese army security plan in Baalbek as to preserve its security and market, a number of the top wanted people escaped to Syria, as the “Asharq al-Awsat” newspaper has quoted Hassan al-Laqees, head of the Baalbek Municipality, on June 22.
He added that the wanted people escaped to resorts in Tartous area, pointing out that the security coordination between Syria and Lebanon can lead to their arrest.
The Head of the Municipality explained that the number of the prosecuted people, who must be arrested in Baalbek- Hermel according to murder, shooting and drug dealing warrants does not exceed a 100, knowing that “information indicates the presence of 37 thousand arrest warrants of 1200 prosecuted people in the area.”
More Action might Limit the Phenomenon
The lawyer Yaser points out to the importance of the “Interpol’s” role in preventing the escape of criminals and increasing their activities in Syria, especially that the courts in the areas out of the Syrian regime’s control are not internationally recognized. Accordingly, the persons tried by local courts there can escape punishment, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to capture them, because the “Interpol” would not be responsible in these cases if a judgment is not passed by an acknowledged court, such as the regime’s.
According to al-Sayed, this case is the most dangerous, for many criminals have escaped to Turkey after the bombardment of Idlib’s prison, and those are living in the new community without accountability, putting it at a risk.
The countries and their security systems are undertaking steps to cooperate with Syria concerning the persecuted people who fled to Syria, but this action corresponds to the importance of these people and the size of their regional influence, similar to what happens when information are leaked about security meetings between the Syrian and the Italian intelligence services, for example.
There are also countries who are attempting to coordinate with Russia, backing the Syrian regime, without direct contact with the latter, or they move independently like what happen on the case of Yousef Nazik, who was led by the Turkish intelligence services from the center of Syria’s Lattakia to its territories.
The “Interpol” is the short word for the International Police, the full name of which is the International Criminal Police Organization that is the principal police organization, established in 1923, consisting of the police forces of 190 countries, with its headquarters in Lyon, France.
According to its official website, the “Interpol” facilities for exchanging help at the largest scale possible between all the authorities responsible for the execution of criminal laws; it also ensures the police forces ability at communication in a safe manner throughout the world, allowing for observing data and police information from the different parts of the world, offering operational support in specific prioritized criminal fields.
Syria joined the “Interpol” treaty in 1956, and there are nine Syrian wanted people under the Organization’s red notice, which specializes in prosecuting criminals and demand their delivery, in addition to other similar legal undertakings.
It is also conducting a search for tow Syrians under the yellow notice, which specializes in finding missing people, whose relatives or local authorities failed to find or get nay information about their whereabouts.
There are other lists classified by the “Interpol” notices, which look for different targets, about whom the website does not reveal complete information for security-related reasons.