Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 July 2020

Syrian doctor arrested in Germany for ‘crimes against humanity’

Man accused of torturing detainees at a prison run by Syrian regime's intelligence services

German police and security forces are on the alert as authorities bring Syrian suspects to trial. AFP
German police and security forces are on the alert as authorities bring Syrian suspects to trial. AFP

A Syrian doctor was arrested in Germany on suspicion of committing crimes against humanity at a military hospital run by Syrian intelligence services, prosecutors said on Monday.

Identified as Alaa M because of strict German privacy laws, the suspect was accused of having “tortured a detainee … in at least two cases” while working at the hospital in the western city of Homs in 2011.

In one incident, the suspect was alleged to have tortured a man who had been arrested on suspicion of taking part in an anti-government demonstration. The doctor was alleged to have caused the man to suffer an epileptic fit, according to a statement from the prosecutors.

The doctor beat the man with a plastic pipe and kicked him after he fell to the ground, they claimed. Along with another prison doctor, the suspect was accused of beating the protester senseless.

The victim was then carried away in a blanket by prison guards and later died, although the cause of his death was unclear, the prosecutors said.

The accused man left Syria for Germany in 2015, where he continued to practise as a doctor.

His arrest in the central state of Hesse on Friday followed the start in April of the first war crimes trial linked to Syria’s war to take place outside of the country.

In the city of Koblenz, two former members of Syria’s secret police stood accused of crimes against humanity over their role in a Syrian government detention centre where opposition protesters were tortured in their thousands.

Since 2016, close to 50 torture survivors, relatives, campaigners and lawyers have filed criminal complaints connected to human rights abuses by the Syrian government and its agencies, and the Koblenz trial was described as a breakthrough in efforts to bring high-ranking officials accused of war crimes to justice.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group estimated that at least 100,000 people died from torture or as a result of inhumane conditions in government prisons.

Syria's civil war, which began with the repression of anti-government protests, has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced nearly half the country's population.

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Updated: June 22, 2020 03:13 PM

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