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UN Hails Landmark Conviction of Senior Syrian Official in Germany

UN Hails Landmark Conviction of Senior Syrian Official in Germany

Thursday, 13 January, 2022 - 17:30
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends a news conference at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, December 9, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

A former Syrian secret police officer was convicted by a German court Thursday of crimes against humanity for overseeing the abuse of detainees at a jail near Damascus a decade ago, a ruling the top United Nations human rights official described as “historic.”


Anwar Raslan is the highest-ranking Syrian official so far convicted of the charge. The verdict was keenly anticipated by those who suffered abuse or lost relatives at the hands of President Bashar Assad’s government in Syria’s long-running conflict.


“This trial cast a much-needed, renewed spotlight on the kinds of sickening torture, cruel and truly inhuman treatment – including abject sexual violence – that countless Syrians were subjected to in detention facilities," the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said.


"It is a landmark leap forward in the pursuit of truth, justice and reparations for the serious human rights violations perpetrated in Syria over more than a decade.”


The Koblenz state court concluded that the defendant was in charge of interrogations at a facility in the Syrian city of Douma known as Al Khatib, or Branch 251, where suspected opposition protesters were detained.


The court sentenced the 58-year-old to life in prison. His lawyers had asked judges last week to acquit their client, claiming that he never personally tortured anybody and that he defected in late 2012.


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