The trial of a Syrian doctor accused of crimes against humanity begins at the German Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main

Paris, Frankfurt, Wednesday 19 January 2022

Today, Wednesday, 19 January 2022, the trial of the defendant “Alaa. M” by the German Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt am Main begins. “Alaa. M” is the doctor – who previously worked in Syrian military hospitals-, is facing several charges, most of which fall under the category of crimes against humanity.

The Federal Court of Justice in Frankfurt (OLG) has accepted -yesterday, Tuesday 18 ـJaunary 2022-, the appeal submitted by the Federal Public Prosecutor regarding the indictment against the defendant “Alaa.M”, by upholding all eighteen charges for crimes against humanity and related offenses, after the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt am Main had previously accepted only ten of the eighteen counts.

The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) welcomes the trial proceedings against “Alaa.M”, as well as the decision of the Federal Court of Justice in Frankfurt (OLG) to accept all charges against him. SCM considers this trial as one step in the process that pushes towards achieving justice for the Syrians, a path that is still arduous and long awaits the referral of Syria’s file to the International Criminal Court, or the launch of a national transitional justice process based on the political transition in Syria. The Center once again commends the courage of the victims and witnesses, putting all its capabilities at their service.

It is reported that the defendant “Alaa.M”, was arrested by the German police on Friday, 19 June 2020 in the state of Hesse- Germany, on suspicion of committing crimes against humanity and torturing detainees, based on an arrest warrant issued by the investigating judge of the Federal Court of Justice in Frankfurt (OLG) on the same day. Subsequently, on the 16th of December, the judge ordered the warrant issued on 19 June to be replaced with a lengthy arrest warrant adapted to the investigation situation. and on 15 July 2021, the Federal Public Prosecutor decided to accept the indictment against the Syrian doctor “Alaa.M” -residing in Germany-, and to refer the case file to the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt am Main. The indictment includes crimes in the category of premeditated murder, torture, inflicting severe physical and psychological harm, and attempting to deprive persons of the ability to reproduce, all of which are classified as crimes against humanity. The defendant is suspected of committing these crimes during his work periods in Homs Military Hospital /608/, the Military Security Branch in Homs /261/ and Al-Mezzeh Military Hospital /601/, between 2011 and 2015, when he left Syria for Turkey and then to Germany to settle in.

And It worth noting that the German Public Prosecutor initially relied on the information from the joint investigative investigation of Al Jazeera and the German newspaper “Der Spiegel”, entitled “The Search for Assad’s Executors”, about several persons accused of crimes against humanity in Syria heading to Europe under the pretext of asylum or immigration, the investigation later revealed that the defendant doctor headed to Germany in 2015, where he settled and practiced medicine there in hospitals in two different cities.

Mazen Darwish, Director General of SCM says: “Once again, with their courage and determination, the victims prove that they are the knights and foundation of justice and that the bet on the victims abandoning their rights with time passing, is pure illusion. It is impossible to achieve sustainable peace in the future of Syria without real justice that guarantees the victim’s rights and holds the criminals accountable.

The importance of this lawsuit lies in the fact that it is the first of its kind in which charges are brought against a member of the medical staff, who was supposed to be part of the medical care system yet participated in the execution of crimes against humanity. This lawsuit also highlights the Syrian government’s systematic use of sexual violence as a form of torture that is also practiced by medical personnel as well as in detention and investigation centers in Syria, which sets an important precedent in the history of universal jurisdiction cases concerning international crimes committed in Syria and abroad.

Once again, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) stresses the importance of holding those involved in the grave violations of human rights in Syria accountable and on fighting impunity. And considers this trial as another step on the long road toward justice and the redress for the victims, which is very important to be followed by other steps to bring to justice every war criminal and perpetrator of crimes against humanity in Syria from all parties, whoever and wherever they are. SCM also calls upon the rest of the governments of countries to take similar measures, countries in whose territories war criminals or perpetrators of grave human rights violations – who came from Syria – may reside, and reiterates its demand on the referral of Syria’s file to the International Criminal Court, and to hold the perpetrators of these crimes accountable, as a prelude to a political solution that will result in sustainable peace in Syria.