Syr­ian ‘tor­tur­ers’ switched sides, Ger­man court hears

Kuwait Times - - Internatio­nal -

KOBLENZ, Ger­many: The main de­fen­dant in the first trial on state-spon­sored tor­ture in Syria sought po­lice pro­tec­tion in Ger­many be­cause he felt threat­ened by Bashar Al-As­sad’s in­tel­li­gence ser­vice af­ter he switched sides, a Ger­man court was told on Fri­day. An­war Raslan, 57, is in the docks charged with over­see­ing the mur­der of 58 peo­ple and the tor­ture of 4,000 oth­ers while in charge of the Al-Khatib de­ten­tion

cen­tre in Da­m­as­cus.

Fel­low de­fen­dant Eyad Al-Gharib, 43, is ac­cused of be­ing an ac­com­plice to crimes against hu­man­ity, hav­ing helped to ar­rest pro­test­ers and de­liver them to Al-Khatib in the au­tumn of 2011. On the sec­ond day of the closely watched hear­ing, a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tor told the court that both men had fled to Ger­many af­ter de­sert­ing Syr­ian in­tel­li­gences ser­vices to join the op­po­si­tion. Both men had also ad­mit­ted to their past links to As­sad’s regime when ques­tioned by Ger­man au­thor­i­ties.

For 18 years, Raslan worked in the Syr­ian in­tel­li­gence ser­vices, a Ger­man po­lice of­fi­cer called to the wit­ness stand told the court. He had in fact ap­proached the po­lice him­self to tell them about his past in Fe­bru­ary 2015, five months af­ter he ar­rived in

Ger­many. He felt “threat­ened by Syr­ian se­cret ser­vice agents,” said the in­ves­ti­ga­tor, adding that Raslan said he had joined the Syr­ian op­po­si­tion in ex­ile af­ter de­sert­ing the regime. That trig­gered Ger­man in­ves­ti­ga­tors’ in­ter­est on his past.

‘A stark warn­ing’ In­ter­ro­gated twice by crim­i­nal po­lice, he pro­vided “vast and var­ied in­for­ma­tion” about what he did, the court heard. He ex­plained how within his di­vi­sion 251 where he was pro­moted to “the high­est rank” in Jan­uary 2011, sol­diers be­gan car­ry­ing out ar­bi­trary ar­rests, the in­ves­ti­ga­tor said. “He said that in­ter­ro­ga­tions were car­ried out with vi­o­lence,” said the of­fi­cer, de­tail­ing var­i­ous tor­ture meth­ods prac­ticed in the prison. —AFP

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