In a world first, Syrian officer indicted for war crimes in German court Jan 14, 2022 0 0 12345 DPAKoblenz, GermanyA former Syrian colonel was convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison by a German court in Koblenz on Thursday, in what prosecutors said was the first trial of its kind worldwide.The former intelligence officer and interrogator, identified only as Anwar R, was tried in Germany under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows the prosecution of possible war crimes committed by foreigners in other states. Defence lawyer Yorck Fratzky said that his client, identified only as Anwar R, was not “satisfied” with the judge’s decision and that he was sentenced on behalf of the Syrian regime. “The defence has not seen this personal guilt,” Fratzky said.The defendant was accused of crimes against humanity in 2011 and 2012, in the early stages of the Syrian civil war. “The prisoner was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, torture, aggravated deprivation of liberty, rape and sexual assault,” the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz stated in a press release.He was convicted of hostage-taking in two cases and sexual abuse of prisoners in three cases. The landmark trial into state-sanctioned torture began in April 2020, with two defendants in the dock. In February 2021, the younger co-defendant was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for aiding and abetting a crime against humanity.Anwar R, 58, throughout the trial denied committing torture or giving instructions for others to commit torture. His lawyers argued that he had tried to help Arab Spring demonstrators get out of jail, and sympathized with the opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Judges rejected his arguments, however.The conviction was a “historic decision” and an “important signal” against impunity, said rights group Amnesty International. Amnesty expected that, following Thursday’s ruling, “further trials will be brought in Germany and in other states in accordance with the principle of universal jurisdiction.” “The verdict .... will not fix the broken heart of every mother whose son was killed under torture,” former Syrian prisoner Omar Alshogre said. Alshogre was detained when he was 17 and was kept in a prison in Damascus - not the one where Anwar R worked - until he was 20. He is now resident in Sweden.“Nor will [the verdict] even represent a fraction of the pain we had to endure. But it repairs our hope that the regime will fall and our freedom will come,” he said. The closely watched trial could set a precedent for future trials of Syrian officials who committed crimes during the civil war.“Despite all the shortcomings of international criminal justice, Anwar R’s conviction shows what the principle of universal jurisdiction can achieve - and that such trials are in fact feasible in Germany and Europe,” said Wolfgang Kaleck, general secretary of the independent rights group the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR). Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES New daily high of Covid cases prompts closures in Philippines Jan 14, 2022 0 0 Public transport drivers block roads in Lebanon to protest economic hardship Jan 14, 2022 0 0 India logs 247,000 new coronavirus cases, sharpest daily hike so far Jan 14, 2022 0 0 Taipei defends Taiwan academic attacked by Chinese media for article Taipei Taiwan’s government on Thursday vowed to defend an academic accused by Chinese media of breaking Hong Kong’s national security law by writing an article mainland media claim was pro-Hong Kong independence. .. Botswana to sell 300 elephant trophy hunter licences DPA Gaborone Botswana plans to issue licences to hunt 294 elephants during the opening of this year’s hunting season in April. According to the national park director responsible for issuing the licences, Kabelo .. landmark leap: UN rights chief New York UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet has hailed the trial and conviction in Germany of a Syrian former intelligence officer accused of crimes against humanity. “It is a landmark leap forward in the .. Probe starts after two Israeli soldiers killed by friendly fire in Jordan Valley Tel Aviv Two Israeli officers are dead after a friendly fire incident during a security patrol adjacent to a military base in the Jordan Valley, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said on Thursday. “The officers were .. Nobel prize committee calls on Ethiopian laureate to end Tigray conflict Copenhagen The awarding institution of the Nobel Peace Prize has called on Ethiopian laureate Abiy Ahmed to put an end to the armed conflict in the Tigray region. “As prime minister and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, ..