The trial case of the officer, Anwar Raslan, a dissident from the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime of about 8 years ago, is again coming to the fore after setting the date for his first public trial session in Germany, where he has been residing as a refugee for about 6 years, in a one of a kind trial for a Syrian official.
Syrian lawyer Anwar al-Bunni, known for his defense of human rights, confirmed that “next Thursday, the trial sessions of the officer will open for the first time” since he was arrested by the German authorities in February 2018.
Al-Bunni, who heads the Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research, said: “The German Prosecutor began preparing the Ruslan file since 2018, listened to the victims’ testimonies and collected evidence and documents, and then issued a decision and arrested him in February last year with Iyad Gharib. ” .
Raslan, who was a prominent officer in the Syrian intelligence in a branch known as “251” or “the security branch of Al-Khatib” in Damascus, is accused of torturing about 4,000 people, 58 of whom were killed in the period from April 2011 to September of 2012. In addition to accusing him Of two cases of sexual violence and rape, according to the list of charges against him.
He is also accused of arresting al-Bunni in May 2006 in front of his house in Damascus and imprisoning him for five years until his release in 2011 when the protest movement started in Syria.
The well-known Syrian lawyer met Ruslan at his exile in Berlin, where he happened to reside in the same asylum seekers’ building in the city where they arrived two months apart, but he did not recognize him at first.
Then, a few months later, he encountered him again in a supermarket, and this time he was able to identify him, according to what was previously reported by Agence France-Presse.
In 2016, when he began working with lawyers to gather evidence, he learned that German investigators were closely following the Anwar Raslan case, who was recently arrested in Berlin in February 2019.
In addition, Al-Bunni expected that Ruslan will face life imprisonment as a result of his practices, while he was at work before he quit the Syrian regime, more than a year after the protests that broke out in the country in mid-March 2011.
He added that “such crimes are usually punished with life imprisonment or for a period of no less than 20 years.”
He also revealed that “Iyad Gharib is also accused of participating in exposing people to torture.” He continued, “Next Thursday, their first trial sessions will begin and the confrontation will be public between the accused and the victims, and it is expected that this will continue for a period of one to two years, due to the large number of witnesses and victims.”
According to the well-known Syrian lawyer, the legal center he runs contributed to bringing 12 victims and witnesses, while others joined the lawsuit after that, and they were about 40 people, between “victims, witnesses ” of the officer’s practices.
He considered that “Ruslan’s case is the first of other cases against criminals who committed war crimes against humanity, and although Ruslan is the first person to be arrested and prosecuted, but he will not be the last, we are preparing other files for the accused”, pointing out that “what Ruslan will deliver can be useful for other cases that we have already brought before European prosecutors in Germany, Sweden and France.”
Moreover, he described the victims who testified to the competent authorities in Europe as “true heroes”. He said in this regard that “most of them were among the victims I had previously defended in Syria. They knew me and trust was useful in the work. They gave their testimonies strongly.”
While people who were detained seek to improve the image of Ruslan on the pretext of his deserting the regime, al-Bunni stressed that “it is not possible to grant an amnesty to a person for his crimes after changing his position, changing the political position must not necessarily acquit him, the criminal is a criminal before changing his position and after that, We are not talking about ordinary crimes, they are crimes against humanity and affected a huge numbers of Syrians. “
Ruslan is a senior officer in the Al-Khatib branch and his trial is the first of its kind for a Syrian official outside and inside the country as well.
He quit the regime in 2012, after which he joined the opposition military delegation that participated in Geneva in February 2014 in negotiations with the Assad negotiating delegation. He participated in those negotiations as a military adviser. After the Geneva conference ended, he applied for asylum in Germany.