Syrian intelligence officials charged in Germany

by Wolfgang Sannwald

In 2016, an expert in the “arrest barrack” at the Natzweiler-Struthof memorial in Alsace said that 19 people were temporarily locked in a shockingly narrow cell with six square meters during the German tyranny before 1945. She then told a group from Tübingen about other ill-treatment and torture. Ibrahim (name changed by the editors), who had fled from Syria to Germany a year before and has lived in Tübingen ever since, turned pale: he had just fled from such a prison. At that time, political reasons for fleeing Syria were hardly known in detail. Now German courts are addressing this.

On April 23rd 2020, the Koblenz Higher Regional Court started proceedings against two suspected employees of the Syrian secret service. The prosecutor speaks of “the world’s first criminal case against members of the Assad regime for crimes against humanity.” The Attorney General accuses the defendant Anwar R. of being involved in 58 murders, rape and serious sexual assault in 2011 and 2012.

Anwar R. is said to have headed the “Investigations” unit in the General Intelligence Department (Department 251), which is responsible for the security of the Governorate of Damascus City and the surrounding area. The prison of Department 251 was attached to this. He oversaw the investigative unit’s interrogators and was the military superior of the prison staff. The indictment accuses him of allowing murder and torture under his leadership and responsibility in prison. From April 29th, 2011 to September 7th, 2012, at least 4,000 prisoners were tortured during the entire period of detention. The Attorney General described violent effects from blows and kicks to electric shocks. In at least one case there was also rape and severe sexual assault. The detainees were also threatened with ill-treatment of close relatives. The brutal physical and psychological abuse served to force confessions and information about the opposition movement. At least 58 people died as a result of the abuse.

In addition to the abuses mentioned, the prison had inhumane and degrading conditions of detention. For example, the inmates were consistently denied medical care and personal hygiene, there was not enough food, and more often than not the food was simply inedible. The detention cells were so crowded that sitting down or lying down was often not possible and prisoners had to sleep while standing. The defendant Anwar R., as head of the investigative unit, divided the interrogators and prison guards on duty and monitored and determined their activities and work processes, including the use of systematic and brutal torture. He was aware of the extent of the torture the entire time. Anwar R. entered the Federal Republic on July 26th, 2014.

Eyad A. is accused of complicity in a crime against humanity in 2011. He had been an employee of a subdivision of the secret service and had searched the streets with colleagues for fleeing demonstrators after the violent break-up of a demonstration. Eventually, at least 30 people were arrested and taken to the Department 251 prison by bus. Eyad A. accompanied the transport in one of the buses. The detainees had been beaten on the way to the prison and on arrival as well. In prison, they were brutally abused and tortured systematically. The defendant Eyad A. had known about the regular and systematic torture in Department 251 when the demonstrators were arrested. The defendant Eyad A. came to Germany on April 25th, 2018.

The two defendants are Syrian nationals. The court ruled 24 days of trial between April 23th and August 13th, 2020. All details of the case were given in a press release by the Koblenz Higher Regional Court on March 10th, 2020.


Foto: Bei der Jugendguidesqualifizierung des Landkreises Tübingen besuchten auch Geflüchtete aus Syrien und anderen Ländern die KZ-Gedenkstätte Natzweiler-Struthof im Elsass. Bei vielen derartigen Arresträumen haben Inhaftierte Lebenszeichen hinterlassen, so in dieser Türe zu einer Arrestzelle. Die Beschreibungen zu den Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit, denen die Inhaftierten wehrlos ausgesetzt waren, erweckten bei manchem Geflüchteten  Erinnerungen an kurz zuvor im Herkunftsland Erlebtes. Es handelt sich dabei um eine Detailbeobachtung. Der Vergleich bezieht sich nicht auf die Dimension und denrassistischen Hintergrund des Massenmordes durch das Deutsche Reich.  tünews INTERNATIONAL; Wolfgang Sannwald.

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