Former brigadier general in regime’s army stands trial in Swedish court

Swedish Supreme Court (TT)

Swedish Supreme Court (TT)


The trial is set to begin for a former brigadier general in the Syrian regime forces before the Swedish judiciary on the 15th of April. He is accused of aiding and abetting war crimes in Syria through conducting indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian properties.

This is the highest military rank from the regime’s forces to appear before a European court in the context of individual trials related to the subject matter. It is also the first trial pertaining to military operations in Syria, following trials about human rights violations, murder, and torture.

The former brigadier general, who was the head of the arms unit of Division “11” from the Third Corps in the “Syrian Army” in Homs and Hama, is accused of aiding and abetting in the commission of war crimes specifically in the Baba Amr district, the town of al-Rastan, and the al-Houla region, during the period between January 2012 and July of the same year.

According to the indictment, the regime’s forces’ warfare in Homs and Hama during that period violated international humanitarian law, Geneva Conventions, and customary international law, with the commencement of large-scale indiscriminate warfare by military leaders through wide-ranging attacks by air and ground, without distinction between civilians and combatants or between civilian properties and military targets.

Aiding and abetting these actions is a crime according to Article 6 of Chapter 22 of the Swedish Penal Code, and Article 4 of Chapter 23 of the same law.

The prosecution’s list includes a large number of attacks carried out in a systematic and strategic manner, resulting in the death and injury of a number of civilians and substantial losses in properties, leaving severe consequences for civilians, according to what was relayed by the organization “Civil Rights Defenders” (an independent, politically non-affiliated human rights organization).

The accused, a former brigadier general, served in the “Syrian Army” before defecting in July 2012. During the timeframe of the allegations, alongside his position as a brigadier and head of the arms unit in the 11th Division of the Third Corps, he served on the division’s leadership team, contributing to the military leadership’s ability to make strategic decisions and execute planned military operations.

Types of evidence

The evidence against the accused consists of written texts, testimony by plaintiffs and witnesses, alongside photographic evidence and video recordings. International reports will be used, including those issued by The International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism on Syria to describe the situation in Hama and Homs during 2011, returning to the asylum interview the accused had with the Swedish Migration Agency, along with reports and images and video recordings showing any of the injured plaintiffs or witnesses, or the state of al-Rastan, al-Houla, and Baba Amr during the specified period of the case.

The case has eight plaintiffs, some of whom own destroyed houses, and others who were injured or lost family members due to the attacks. Additionally, there are 15 witnesses in the case, who are eyewitnesses and informed about the events, military defectors with information about military units, and experts who can speak about how the division’s military structure operates.

The trial, starting on the 15th of April, will continue for five weeks, averaging two to four sessions weekly.

It will commence with the prosecution’s statement on the 15th and 16th of April, followed by the opening arguments of the prosecution and defense attorneys on the 22nd of April.

The first session of hearing the plaintiffs will be held on the 22nd of April, with subsequent sessions on the 23rd and 24th of the same month, and a hearing session for the accused on the 29th of April.

The first witness session is on the 3rd of May, followed by other sessions on the 6th, 7th, 8th, 13th, 16th, and 17th of May, leading up to the closing statements of the prosecution, defense attorneys, and prosecution on the 21st of May, which is the scheduled end of the trial. A verdict is expected to be issued several weeks thereafter.


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