Germany begins trial of National Defense member on war crimes charges in Syria

A Syrian man accused of war crimes hides his face in front of the High Regional Court - May 17, 2024 (DPA)

A Syrian man accused of war crimes hides his face in front of the High Regional Court - May 17, 2024 (DPA)

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The Hanseatic Higher Regional Court in Hamburg, Germany, commenced the trial on Friday, May 17, of a member of the Syrian regime’s National Defense forces, on charges related to committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

German websites reported details about the accused, revealing video recordings of the militia mistreating individuals from the Syrian opposition. These clips helped identify the accused, a 47-year-old residing in Germany for seven years.

The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office accuses him of being one of the leaders of this militia between 2012 and 2015. He is also charged with arbitrarily detaining individuals in a neighborhood of the Syrian capital, Damascus, and coercing them into forced labor.

On July 26, 2023, an arrest warrant was issued by the investigating judge at the Federal Court of Justice, leading to the defendant’s arrest in August 2023, where he remains in custody.

According to a statement from the German Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, on March 26, charges were filed before the State Security Council at the High Regional Court in Hamburg.

The statement refers to the accused by the name “Ahmad H.”, charged with committing crimes against humanity, individuals, and property, with some of his alleged behaviors constituting crimes under German criminal law.

The indictment states that, at the latest since April 2011, the Syrian regime increasingly used brutal violence against its critics with the main involvement of Syrian intelligence, aiming to halt the protest movement as soon as possible and intimidate the population.

To achieve this, real and supposed opponents were arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and often killed across the country, frequently without any legal basis.

According to the statement, between 2012 and 2015, “Ahmad H.” served in a shabiha militia that was incorporated into the National Defense in the Tadamon region, south of Damascus. The Syrian regime tasked this militia with suppressing opponents, in cooperation with the “227” branch of the Syrian Military Intelligence Service.

At the headquarters of branch “227”, the elements conducted executions that claimed the lives of at least 47 civilians in mass execution operations between April 16 and October 16, 2013.

During that period, “Ahmad H.” and his companions established checkpoints in the Tadamon area and other locations, where they actively detained individuals arbitrarily and extorted money from them, either directly or through their relatives, forcing them into labor or torturing them.

Furthermore, the accused personally participated in the mistreatment of civilians; in one incident in 2013, he beat a man detained by the militia and ordered his comrades to brutally beat the prisoner with plastic pipes for hours.

 

 

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