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As Syrian persecutor arrested in jail, justice dispute begins | Prison News

Koblenz, Germany When a former Syrian soldier Anwar Raslan | was sentenced to prison in Germany last week, many appreciated the verdict as history.

The Syrian soldier was found guilty of at least 4,000 acts of torture, at least 27 deaths and physical and sexual violence, while in charge of Branch 251 of Syria’s well-known Syrian intelligence in Damascus.

But will the sentencing of a single soldier in the military really bring justice to the millions of Syrians who have lost so much in the last decade?

For Syrians deported to Germany, Raslan’s arrest in February 2019 was controversial, mainly because he supported the opposition before leaving in 2012.

Prosecutors testified that at least a dozen other victims testified against Raslan, including one senior Syrian security official. No one was arrested.

During the meeting, a witness interviewed by Raslan at Branch 251 told the court that all Syrians were victims of governmental misconduct. This included Raslan.

One witness said he wanted to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sit in court.

Raslan’s defense spokesman, meanwhile, questioned the limits of human responsibility in the ruling state.

“This is not fair,” said Mazen Darwish, a Syrian human rights activist who heads the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression in Paris, and testified in Raslan’s case.

“But it is important because it is the first time that an independent court has seen this. These are not stories of survivors or reports from human rights organizations. The court ruled that Syria was in the throes of an ongoing crackdown. “

Fadwa Mahmoud of Syria has a photo of her son and a friend leaving the courtroom in Koblenz, West Germany, on January 13, 2022. [Thomas Frey/AFP/Pool]

Darwish echoed the sentiments of lawyers, survivors of torture and human rights activists, who said: “It is only a step in the right direction.”

Wolfgang Kaleck, director of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, based in Berlin, which was instrumental in supporting the case against the 14 co-accused and assisting in the preaching work, said: “You have to admit it is not enough.”

After World War II, the Germans had similar conflicts.

“And it was clear that criminal justice could not provide a perfect solution to the Nazi crimes. So there is no easy solution. But is this a step forward? [for Syria]? I would say yes. ”

The head-scratching case has been successful in many ways – especially as a study of the Syrian people and the legal community around the world.

“The lesson [for Syrians] and that we are all equal under the law and that every victim has the right to seek justice for himself and his family, “said Mansour Omari, a Syrian human rights activist and Reporters Without Borders researcher.

This is what the Assyrians fought for when their revolt began, he said.

The case also appears to have contributed to the development of guidelines for future European crimes involving the use of international powers.

This rule of law allows law-abiding citizens to prosecute criminals, whether they have any connection with their country or not. It is a legal entity in European courts and is used to crack down on Syrian militants and ISIS (ISIS) militants in Iraq. Germany alone is investigating some 100 such cases.

Raslan’s method can also affect the way the test is performed.

For example, lawyers in Raslan’s case did well to convince Koblenz judges to add insult to injury to the war list, although they did not convince German judges to add “forced extinction”.

Legal experts say the case also touches on the meaning of legal protection for government officials.

In addition, several European security agencies are cooperating in a number of new mechanisms to obtain evidence in these cases.

Anwar Raslan |Former Syrian intelligence chief Anwar Raslan has been charged with overseeing the killing of 27 people at the Al-Khatib Prison in Damascus, also known as Branch 251, in 2011 and 2012. [Thomas Frey/AFP/Pool]

But the Koblenz policy also provided lessons on what we should not do.

For example, a district court in Germany was reprimanded for failing to communicate effectively with victims, which is what international courts and institutions often do.

When it comes to fairness, communication can be just as important as the same case, “said Syrian researcher Omari.

To date, the Koblenz court has not granted the Arabic translation of the text to Syrian observers in the early stages of the trial. It did not record the case in a legal way, either.

A similar case is being heard in Frankfurt this week, with a Syrian doctor accused of torturing prisoners at a military hospital being prosecuted. In these cases, Arabic translations of the Bible are not available.

Trials like these, which exercise international domination, are also at political risk.

German judges cannot track all military criminals anywhere, and decide where the time, effort, and millions of euros will be spent.

“We need to establish a system that can be used in the same way,” said Kaleck, who twice tried to bring a global case against former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, alleging he was responsible for the persecution in Iraq.

If Europeans simply follow the “western enemies” these cases will not lead anywhere, he argued.

Mazen Darwish also has some of the boasts of the case.

“Sometimes it’s just like them [the European courts] he thinks he will now end the crisis in Syria, “he said.

Al Jazeera spoke to a number of people as Koblenz’s case came to an end, including the victims, legal experts and human rights activists – and all said it was important to pay close attention to what was happening, as he cried foul over the ban on European migration and creeping normalization about al-Assad’s leadership.

The case has not stopped – and it will not stop – al-Assad, “Omari said. The Syrians are being persecuted “as we speak”, he warned.

Following the verdict, Ameenah Sawwan, a spokesman for the Syrian Campaign for Justice and Accountability, said in Koblenz, “The case is far from over.”

Sawwan was in a city in southwestern Germany organizing a rally aimed at identifying the Syrians who are still missing, including three of his relatives.

“Today it has really hurt me. As I thought of a path that would bring us closer to justice, I thought it would be in Syria in 2011. Not in Germany, in 2022. “

“Of course, the case is important and I saw hope in the eyes of the survivors who were tortured,” he said. “But you can’t deny how many of us Syrians feel. We waited 11 years to get here but it is not in Syria, it is not in Arabic either [al-Assad] authority is still in power. So I just felt tired. How much longer must we wait for our story to end?

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