Paris, 24 February 2021
After decades of systematic torture by the Syrian security agencies and violation escalation from the latter and other parties, the Supreme Regional Court of Koblenz, in its session held on February 24 2021, issued the first verdict in the crimes of torture committed in Syria against Iyad G, who is accused of complicity in committing crimes against humanity in the form of torture and aggravated depravation of liberty. This decision comes with a sentence of four years and six months’ imprisonment for Iyad G, this verdict can be appealed.
The victims and survivors of this case have fought to become actors to create the unprecedented, for the first time, a former syrian official has been sentenced of complicity in committing crimes against humanity in the form of torture and aggravated depravation of liberty, we celebrate this long fight that is only a begining and that will eventually lead to the recognition of the long suffering of a people and to the establishement of a pacified Syria. Through determination they created a first that no one could have imagined only a few years ago, and we can only reaffirm our support to them.
The trial of Eyad G. and Anwar R. started on April 24, 2020, following their arrest by the german security authorities based on complaints from representatives of victims and survivors of torture and arbitrary detention in the Alkhatib branch/ 251 of the State Security in Syria led to the result that we welcome today, this was also possible thanks to ,the testimonies and the long and tireless work has been done by some European and Syrian non-governmental organizations to facilitate the Tribunal’s access to witness testimony, evidence and information about the chain of command and ranks, about the structure of the Syrian security services and their history of restricting political and civil action and suppressing freedoms.
The Court listed the evidence that served as a basis for the verdict, one of the evidence was Caesar’s photographs, and the President of the Court had a personal comment on them when she said: “I will never forget these pictures”The Court also based its decision on the accused’s statements to the criminal police.
Following the issuance of numerous arrest warrants for high-ranking Syrian security officers, and after having made long efforts to pursue war criminals through the only available path of universal jurisdiction, The first court sentence for a person involved in torture crimes in Syria gives hope for the victims and survivors and the law workers in Syria. This verdict is an important step in the fight against impunity, access to justice and the prosecution of criminals. It is also a great motivation for employees of law institutions to continue their work in documenting crimes. All of this remains little progress in a long way to justice against the perpetrators of crimes in Syria from all parties. This day is important because it would have never been such a day without the victims and survivors persistence in pursuing justice and recognition, and it opens the way to many more to carry on with their claims until more concrete and systematic verdicts are pronounced so that a real future for Syria can be pictured.
“The verdict issued today in the Court of Koblenz is not only an indictment of accused Iyad.A It is a judicial indictment of all the security services in Syria and of all the violations that they committed. And it’s just the beginning” says Mazen DARWISH.
The Syrian Centre for media and Freedom of Expression stresses the importance of this verdict in the history of justice in Syria, it also emphasizes that this was possible thanks to the courage of victims and survivors, and the collaboration of witnesses, non governmental organisations, and authorities, it also stresses the need to expand the powers of judicial organs with universal jurisdiction, and the need for more evident international efforts towards international mechanisms to bring to justice all war criminals and criminals against humanity in Syria from all parties.