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Germany: Syrian torture on trial

April 9, 2021

Torture in Syria - a German court has been deliberating it for one year now. It is an extraordinary process: not only are the defendants being held responsible, but also the Assad regime itself.

Wassim Mukdad
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/privat

Wassim Mukdad has first-hand experience of what it means to be at the arbitrary mercy of a state. He was repeatedly beaten and mistreated in the notorious Al-Khatib prison.

Koblenz Al-Khatib Prozess | Luna Watfa
Image: Matthias von Hein/DW

The Syrian musician fled to Germany, as did the journalist Luna Watfa, who was also in custody. Both are now putting their hopes in the Koblenz Higher Regional Court.

It is currently deliberating the guilt of Syrian torturers - a case with no direct involvement of Germans. The basis of the trial is the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction, according to which crimes against humanity can be punished worldwide. The court has already sentenced an accomplice of the torturers to four-and-a-half years in prison.


Koblenz Al-Khatib Prozess
Image: Matthias von Hein/DW

Now Anwar R. is on trial. He is a former prison director, who also fled to Germany and, as the main defendant, now has to justify his actions. Some survivors of Syrian state torture are following the trial on location - as joint plaintiffs or as journalists.


They told DW reporter Viktoria Kleber how much they are still suffering from their experiences, and what they hope the Koblenz trial will achieve.



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