After two years of Tadamon massacre revelation, former regime element stands trial in front of German court

Amjad Youssef, a Syrian regime intelligence element, during his civilian killings in the Damascus neighborhood of Tadamon in 2013 (The Guardian newspaper)

Amjad Youssef, a Syrian regime intelligence element, during his civilian killings in the Damascus neighborhood of Tadamon in 2013 (The Guardian newspaper)


The pit of the Tadamon massacre, which witnessed one of the most horrendous war crimes in Syria, has today turned into a testament and a starting point to reach the truth.

It has been 11 years since the massacre, after its details were revealed on April 25, 2022. In this pit dug by elements from the regime’s military intelligence, no fewer than 41 civilians were buried who were executed in mass executions, including children and women, according to videos recorded by the perpetrators themselves, which were later leaked by elements who defected from the army, and found incidentally on computers they received during their service in the Syrian regime forces, according to The Guardian newspaper.

Syrian and international efforts to activate accountability

Lawyers and human rights activists, individuals and institutions, from Syria and European countries, are exerting efforts to uncover the truth and hold the criminals responsible for the Tadamon massacre and other cases committed against civilians in Syria, under both regime and non-regime controlled areas, as confirmed by the director of the organization Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ), Bassam al-Ahmad, to Enab Baladi.

Al-Ahmad added that even though the path to the truth is not easy or short, these judicial efforts related to accountability against violations and fighting impunity are important and bring us closer to justice.

German court to begin trial of regime’s former element 

A few days ago, the Higher Regional Court in Hamburg, Germany, announced its consideration of the charges against a member of the National Defence in the Syrian regime forces, related to his involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity, and referred his file to set a date for his hearing and official investigation.

The Hamburg Court’s announcement came after a statement from the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Karlsruhe, Germany, on March 26.

The statement included accusations against the Syrian accused “Ahmad H.,” suspected of involvement in 21 cases, and committing behaviors classified under German criminal law as crimes, including those considered to be war crimes and crimes against humanity, some linked to the Tadamon massacre.

In turn, the director of the Syrian Justice and Accountability Center (SJAC), the Syrian human rights activist, Mohammad al-Abdallah, stated to Enab Baladi that the center worked on this lawsuit filed against “Ahmad H.,” and presented detailed evidence against him to the German judiciary, noting at the same time that the court will convene during this year, but it is not yet known when exactly.

Al-Abdallah believes that these trials are of great importance because they will highlight the violations that occurred specifically in the Tadamon massacre, and towards accountability and the enforcement of the law in general.

About the accused, the German federal prosecutors said that he was a member of a “militia” deployed by the Syrian regime during the period from 2012 to 2015 to violently suppress opposition efforts in the Tadamon area of Damascus through the military intelligence division. He detained Syrians and tortured them arbitrarily and in harsh conditions, for financial extortion, or forcing them into forced labor.

The prosecutors provided numerous testimonies about the involvement of “Ahmad H.” in violent and abusive behaviors towards his civilian victims, such as holding a victim by the hair and smashing his head on the pavement.

The accused also detained many civilians and forced them to transport sandbags to the nearby front for several hours at a time. There, the prisoners worked under frequent bombardments and without food or water, with their lives endangered, at different checkpoints on at least nine verified occasions.

The Federal Criminal Police arrested “Ahmad H.” in Bremen city in August 2023, where he has been detained since then, pending his trial, and the resolution of the cases filed against him.

Politically governed actions

The director of the organization Syrians for Truth and Justice, Bassam al-Ahmad, recalls when videos of the Tadamon massacre first appeared and were met with condemnation and outrage from the Syrian and international communities, popular and human rights, and their impact in directing global political decisions regarding the pursuit of the case and uncovering its circumstances and perpetrators.

The political decisions in the countries play the main and largest role in these trials, according to al-Ahmad, to begin first with the follow-ups and pursuits that deepen and broaden the required investigations.

European governments interested in reaching the truth have taken a series of measures that have contributed to the advancement of the case, such as facilitating the access of some victims or witnesses to the massacre to testify before the court and to proceed with the investigations and gather more information and evidence.

Preventing impunity

Enforcing the law and pursuing the criminals or those who commit violations against civilians within Syria remains unfeasible, in the absence of accountability application by all controlling powers and entities, while accountability outside it represents a hope for many to achieve justice.

The head of the Syrian Office for Legal Studies and Research, lawyer Anwar al-Bunni, stated that the cases filed against the accused are proceeding in different ways. Sometimes, if the public prosecutor or the security and police forces in European countries have information about an accused of committing violations in Syria against civilians, these entities can move the case forward and file a lawsuit with the public judiciary, whether this information was provided by refugees, Syrian or international organizations, or from the victim or the victim’s relatives.

If the suspected or involved in crimes against civilians reach European countries, and there are lawsuits filed against them, based on evidence, witnesses, victims, or relatives of the victims, the authorities arrest them, and bring them to trial.

Bassam al-Ahmad emphasized the necessity of continuing and documenting the crimes committed in Syria by all parties, to serve as a starting point for individuals and human rights and humanitarian institutions to apply accountability and even prosecution against the perpetrators.

He added that although this trial relates to a specific case, it undoubtedly paves the way for opening many related cases concerning violations and accountability, fighting the normalization regarding impunity, and that following these cases without despair and their success in revealing more information may lead to opening overlooked cases, or strengthen achieving evidence about others.

Al-Ahmad stressed the need not to be discouraged, and for all efforts to be concerted by various Syrian and international parties, rights, humanitarian and even political, and considered following up on the execution of the matter of impunity prevention everyone’s responsibility, to reach accountability and justice.

Over the 13 years of the war in Syria, local and international reports have recorded thousands of different violations against civilians, committed by various entities owning power and control in Syria, whether as institutions or individuals.

The continuous efforts and vigorous moves outside Syria to pursue the perpetrators of violations against Syrians have proven their effectiveness, whether carried out by individual or institutional Syrian and international efforts.

As a result of these efforts, numerous trials have taken place in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, and other countries, following which punishments have been issued against individuals and political and military entities proven to be involved in these violations.


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