French court acquits Islam Alloush of kidnapping human rights activists charges

The former spokesperson for Jaysh al-Islam, Islam Alloush (Enab Baladi)

The former spokesperson for Jaysh al-Islam, Islam Alloush (Enab Baladi)


The French Court of Cassation has decided to drop the charges against the former spokesperson for Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam), Majdi Nehme, known as Islam Alloush, pertaining to the kidnapping of four human rights activists in Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, in 2013.

The French newspaper Le Figaro, quoting the AFP, reported that the court rejected an appeal against the decision submitted by the civil parties and supported the conclusions of the investigative chamber, noting that supporting the charge of enforced disappearance requires “positive action and direct involvement by those in power, which does not seem to have been proven”.

The newspaper confirmed that Islam Alloush will be tried in Paris for complicity in war crimes in Syria between 2013 and 2016.

He will also be tried for complicity in recruiting children within an armed group and joining groups that intended to commit war crimes.

The lawyer for the International Federation for Human Rights, Maître Clémence Bectarte, and the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) as well as the Syrian victims, described the decision as disappointing.

On behalf of Alloush, his lawyers, Romain Ruiz and Raphaël Kempf, “welcomed his acquittal of two-thirds of the crimes he was accused of”.

In November 2023, the defense lawyer for Alloush, Raphaël Kempf, confirmed to Enab Baladi, the cancellation of the proceedings against his client by the Paris Court of Appeal, adding that he was not guilty of committing the war crime of hostage-taking and kidnapping, which means his acquittal from the charge of murdering the Syrian activist Razan Zaitouneh and a group of activists.

Kempf continued that the Paris Court of Appeal decided to refer Islam Alloush to the Criminal Court on charges of complicity in committing war crimes in Syria between 2013 and 2016.

Lawyer Kempf said to Enab Baladi that “the dismissal of most of the charges against Majdi Nehme confirms his stance for years, that he is innocent. Nonetheless, he will continue to strongly challenge the remaining charges, especially since he acted within the Jaysh al-Islam group to apply the laws of war”.

The case of Islam Alloush

The complaint lodged in June 2019 against Islam Alloush came after more than three years of documentation presented by the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) regarding the crimes committed by Jaysh al-Islam.

According to the SCM, the indictment included “execution without trial, systematic kidnapping, and torture against men, women, and children, the targeting by the group (Jaysh al-Islam) of those suspected of colluding with the regime as well as ordinary civilians, accused of not strictly applying the Sharia law imposed by the group, or because they belonged to religious minorities”.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) also accused the Jaysh al-Islam faction of committing “war crimes” for using detainees as “human shields”, including civilians, by placing them in iron cages distributed in Eastern Ghouta in October 2015.

Alloush came to France at the end of 2019 through a regular visa issued by the French embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, as part of a scholarship to conduct research on the armed conflict in Syria, to be presented later at a conference in Qatar on “armed groups around the world”.

However, the French police arrested Alloush in January 2020, under arrest conditions that caused much controversy, after publishing a photo showing bruises on his face as a result of that arrest. At that time, Alloush’s family accused the French judiciary of bias towards the prosecution.

Islam Alloush was a sergeant in the armed forces of the Syrian regime, then became one of the senior officers and the official spokesperson of Jaysh al-Islam, alongside the faction’s founder Zahran Alloush from 2011 until his death in a bombing raid in 2015.


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