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First trial on state torture in Syria may end in January

Koblenz, Germany
A trial that German prosecutors say is the world’s first criminal proceedings on state torture in Syria may end in January. Senior prosecutor Jasper Klinge said during a break in the hearing at Koblenz Higher Regional Court that, subject to imponderables, the verdict could come on January 13, 2022.
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office kicked off the plea proceedings in the ongoing trial at the Koblenz Higher Regional Court on Thursday morning. Klinge said that Germany has a particular historical responsibility not to accept crimes against humanity. “We owe this to the victims,” he said, and described the state torture in question as an attack on the international community.
International criminal law allows the prosecution of possible war crimes committed by foreigners in other states.The 58-year-old Syrian is alleged to have been responsible for the torture of at least 4,000 people in a prison of the General Intelligence Service in the Syrian capital Damascus. At least 58 prisoners had died.
The former colonel denied the accusations at the beginning of the trial. He said then that had secretly sympathised with the Syrian opposition and had supported them after fleeing his home country, even participating in the second Syria peace conference in Geneva in 2014. Klinge and Public Prosecutor Claudia Polz drew a different picture of the former high-ranking intelligence officer on Thursday, based also on many statements by victim witnesses. According to Klinge, at the time he was always trying to comply with the wishes of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s rule to “break the opposition out of revenge,” Klinge said. The trial, which attracted international attention, began in April 2020 with two defendants facing charges. In February 2021, the younger one, the Syrian Eyad A, was sentenced to four and a half years’ imprisonment for aiding and abetting a crime against humanity.