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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Another Assad war criminal successfully prosecuted in Germany

Residents of Syria’s besieged Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp wait to receive food parcels on March 14, 2014, the day after the attack for which the alleged perpetrator has been standing trial in Berlin (Germany); Credit: Rami Al Sayed/AFP

Last Thursday, February 23, 2023, the Berlin Regional Court issued a sentence of life imprisonment for Mouwafak Al. D. who was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria in 2014. The accused, who was granted asylum, was arrested in Berlin in early August 2021 after a German public prosecutor issued an indictment against him and referred his file to the Berlin Regional Court which charged him with war crimes, seven counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and three counts of bodily harm.

the accused was a member of the General Command Militia as well as being affiliated with the Free Palestine Militia of the Syrian regime

The open trial sessions began on August 25, 2022, and concluded after thirty public sessions. During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence and testimonies of the alleged victims and witnesses which confirmed that the accused was a member of the General Command Militia as well as being affiliated with the Free Palestine Militia of the Syrian regime.

After the onset of the popular demonstrations and protests in the Yarmouk Camp neighborhood of Damascus, Mouwafak Al. D. participated in suppressing the demonstrations, beating and arresting peaceful demonstrators, and then participated in controlling the camp and subjugating civilians. He also participated in besieging the camp and preventing medicine and food from reaching its residents which led to the deaths of dozens of civilians.

On March 23, 2014, he [Mouwafak Al. D.] deliberately targeted a gathering of civilians who were waiting to receive food support by firing an anti-tank weapon shell at them, killing at least seven civilians and wounding dozens

According to the indictment, Mouwafak Al. D. was in charge of a checkpoint at the entrance to Yarmouk Camp when a truce was established at the beginning of 2014 to allow UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees) to enter the camp with food and medicine. On March 23, 2014, he deliberately targeted a gathering of civilians who were waiting to receive food support by firing an anti-tank weapon shell at them, killing at least seven civilians and wounding dozens.

The Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research in Germany issued a press release after the sentencing and said, “A lot of respect and admiration to the true heroes, the plaintiffs, and witnesses who, despite all the dangers and threats they were exposed to during the trial, and despite the great pain they suffered as a result of the absence of justice for a long time and the remembrance of what they were subjected to, gave all their efforts with the hope to achieve justice, not only for themselves, but for all victims of crimes committed in Syria.”

“This step comes after a great effort in collecting evidence, assisting witnesses and victims, and presenting them to investigative judges”

Almoutassim Al Kilani

The principle of “universal jurisdiction,” on the basis of which the accused was tried, is stipulated in German law and is a principle that allows the state that adopts it to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, regardless of their nationalities or the place where the alleged crimes were committed, and to bring them to its courts or extradite them to another country. party to the agreements to prosecute them.

Almoutassim Al Kilani, a human rights and international criminal law expert, told Syriawise: “This verdict against Mouwafak Al. D.  confirms Germany’s seriousness in prosecuting the perpetrators of crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria. This step comes after a great effort in collecting evidence, assisting witnesses and victims, and presenting them to investigative judges.”

“This verdict is but one step in the long road to Syrian justice,” Al Kilani added.

All countries that adopt the principle of “universal jurisdiction” should pursue the prosecution of war criminals and those accused of crimes against humanity in Syria and bring them to justice until such a time that the Syrian people are liberated and can establish their own judiciary, thus enabling them to punish those who committed crimes against them with sentences commensurate to their crimes in order to achieve justice and fairness. to the victims.

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