Former Syrian officer receives life-sentence for crimes against humanity

Syrian defendant Eyad al-Gharib (centre) waits to hear the verdict in the court room on Feb 24 in Koblenz, western Germany. PHOTO: AFP

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SULAIMANI — Anwar Raslan, a former Syrian colonel who was accused of being a high-ranking officer of the secret police, was handed a life sentence for crimes against humanity in Germany, the BBC reported.

Raslan was accused of overseeing the torture of more than 4,000 prisoners during the years of 2011 and 2012, which resulted in the deaths of at least 58 people, according to the Associated Press. He sought asylum in Germany and was arrested there in 2019.

His lawyers say he never personally tortured anyone and that he defected in 2012, according to Asharq al-Awsat. However, it is alleged he was a senior officer in charge of the "systemic and brutal torture” of detainees.

The trial is the world’s first criminal case over state-led torture in Syria, according to the BBC. Human rights lawyers brought the case to court under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Lawyers are working on future cases against a number of other suspects and seek to bring to justice those who were in positions at the top of command.

(NRT Digital Media)