Syrian Doctor Indicted in Germany for Crimes Against Humanity
BERLIN – A Syrian military doctor accused of torturing opponents of President Bashar al-Assad at military installations in Syria ten years ago and of killing at least one, was charged on Wednesday with crimes against humanity by the German Federal Prosecutor.
The decision to indict the doctor, Alaa Mousa, was part of an effort by German authorities to hold Syrian government officials to account who infiltrated Germany with more than a million refugees, many of whom are victims of the regime Syrian and others fleeing war, in 2015 and 2016.
Mr. Mousa has killed at least one detainee by lethal injection and tortured at least 18 others, the federal prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday when the charges against him were announced.
While a number of returning fighters or recruiters from ISIS have been indicted in German courts, indictments of Syrian government officials in Germany are rare.
Last year two Syrians who were part of the secret military police were put on trial. A verdict in the case of one of the officers is expected in the western city of Koblenz in September. The other, younger officer was convicted in February and sentenced to four and a half years.
Dr Mousa has been detained in Germany since his arrest last year.
Roger Lu Phillips, legal director of the Syrian Center for Justice and Accountability in Washington, applauded the decision of federal prosecutors. “Alaa Mousa is part of the Syrian government apparatus which is part of the persecution and torture of the Syrian people,” he said in a telephone interview.
Mr Philips said the indictment was part of a growing trend in Western countries like Sweden, the Netherlands and France to use the legal concept of universal jurisdiction to hold people to account in cases. countries where they did not commit their crimes.
“Germany has been at the forefront of the fight against this impunity because there are so many Syrians living in the country,” he said.
On Wednesday, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on eight Syrian prisons used by the regime’s intelligence apparatus and five senior officials who run the facilities. The prison where Dr Mousa worked in the city of Homs does not appear to be one of those sanctioned.
Dr Mousa worked as an assistant doctor in a military hospital in Homs from April 2011 until the end of 2012. He also served in a military hospital in the country’s capital, Damascus, according to German officials.
In charges brought by prosecutors, Dr Mousa was charged with a litany of crimes against detainees.
In the summer of 2011, he allegedly sprayed the testicles of a 14 or 15-year-old boy with alcohol before setting him on fire in the emergency room of the military hospital, according to the charges. He also allegedly kicked and punched other prisoners in the head, torso and groin and, in one case, performed an operation without sufficient anesthesia.
When a detainee defended himself against his kicking at Homs hospital, the doctor beat him with a baton and then, after tying him to the ground, injected him with a substance, according to prosecutors. The man died a few minutes later, they say.
The trial date has not been set.
After fleeing Syria in mid-2015, Dr Mousa began working at a hospital near the town of Kassel in central Germany, where he was recognized by other Syrians who alerted the authorities. . He was arrested in June 2020.
While many Germans took in refugees, this influx also gave birth to the populist Alternative für Deutschland, who campaigned on an anti-refugee platform and is now the largest opposition party in parliament. Many Germans, especially on the right, accused the government of allowing too many people without proper control.
The refugee authority came under special scrutiny after a German military officer with right-wing sympathies was able to establish a second identity as a Syrian refugee without speaking Arabic.
It is still unclear what part of his story Dr Mousa disclosed when he entered the country.
Mr Phillips, the lawyer for the Syrian Center for Justice and Accountability, said the indictment sends an important signal to those accused of abuse still in Syria.
“The worst perpetrators remain in Syria, and they will stay in Syria because they know that justice awaits them elsewhere,” he said.
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