Syrian ‘torturers’ switched sides, German court hears
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