Ex-Al Nusra Front extremist jailed in Germany for Syrian massacre
Three other men were charged, given sentences between three and eight years
A German court has sentenced a Syrian man to life in prison for two murders and acting as an accessory to 17 other murders.
The man, 31, is a former member of the Al Nusra Front, also known as Al Qaeda in Syria until 2016 when it cut ties with the group. The group now goes by the name Hayat Tahrir Al Sham.
His victims were members of Syrian security forces and army personnel that were captured in the first years of the Syrian Civil War. Their bodies were then dumped near the city of Tabka as part of a larger mass killing in the area in 2013.
Three other defendants were given prison sentences, ranging from three to eight years. All four men came to Germany as refugees. The European country is home to more than 600,000 Syrians.
Although some cases against extremists and officials involved in the Syrian Civil War are taking place in Iraq and the United States, Europe has been leading the international effort to hold the suspects to account.
But efforts to prosecute members of President Bashar Al Assad’s regime have often failed because Syria has not signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands. Both China and Russia have blocked attempts to give the ICC the mandate to apply a special tribunal to Syria.
In 2018, France and Germany issued their first international arrest warrants for senior Syrian officials involved in the civil war.
In February 2019 three senior members of the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate were arrested in Germany and France. These were the first such arrests in Europe against suspected figures in Syria’s notorious security service.
In October, German prosecutors charged two suspected former Syrian secret service officers - Anwar Raslan and Eyad Al Gharib - for mass rape, torture and crimes against humanity. It was the first international case about state torture in Syria to go to trial.
Updated: January 16, 2020 05:01 PM