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In the course of the trial, greater than 80 witnesses testified about what the courtroom in Koblenz referred to as “catastrophic situations” within the centre, which had a repute for being particularly brutal.

They took the stand regardless of “a fantastic concern of the Syrian regime, whether or not for themselves or for his or her households”, mentioned presiding decide Anne Kerber. “I owe them my full respect,” she mentioned.

President Bashar al-Assad’s regime had resorted to “violence” and “the heavy use of munitions” to suppress protests that erupted in March 2011, Kerber mentioned, additionally stressing that “the Syrian regime isn’t right here within the courtroom”.

Detainees weren’t solely “tortured but in addition starved and disadvantaged of air” in unsanitary, crowded cells the place they might not sit or lie down, she mentioned.

Firas al-Shater, a sufferer who testified earlier than the courts, mentioned the life sentence was “not similar to what they did to us, however it’s a vote for democracy”.

“For me personally, once I was in jail, my aim was to get out and report what occurred there,” he instructed AFP.

One other sufferer, Wassim Mukdad, voiced aid over the decision. “It sends the sign that torture and crimes that occurred in Syria are crimes towards humanity and that the perpetrators should pay for them.”

People walk before a giant billboard showing Syria's president Bashar al-Assad along a street in the capital Damascus on 15 December, 2021.

Supply: AFP

‘Landmark leap ahead’

Syrian lawyer Anwar al-Bunni, who had recognised Raslan as the person who threw him in jail when he crossed paths with him at a DIY retailer in Germany, was overjoyed by the “victory for justice”.

“I’m so completely satisfied… It is a victory for Syria and way forward for Syria,” he mentioned.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet referred to as the decision a “landmark leap ahead”, whereas Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch, which offered a number of the proof used within the trial, described it as “historic”.

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Syrian activists gathered exterior the courtroom on Thursday holding banners and posters with slogans corresponding to “The place are they?” referring to their kin who’ve disappeared in Syrian detention centres.

Activist Yasmen Almasha instructed AFP: “I believe that that is what he deserves. I’d’ve wished for my brother Okba to have had the identical honest prosecution that Anwar Raslan did. Perhaps he would’ve nonetheless been alive, we would not have misplaced him.”

Raslan was placed on trial in April 2020 together with one other lower-ranking defendant, Eyad al-Gharib, who was accused of serving to to arrest protesters and ship them to the detention centre.

Yasmen Almashan at the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz, Germany, shows a picture of her brothers, who were killed in Syria. Photo: 13 January, 2022.

Supply: EPA

Gharib was sentenced to 4 and a half years in jail final yr for complicity in crimes towards humanity, within the first verdict worldwide over torture by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s authorities.

The case towards the 2 males was introduced utilizing the authorized precept of common jurisdiction, which permits offences to be prosecuted even when they had been dedicated in a special nation.

Different such circumstances have additionally sprung up in Germany, France and Sweden, as Syrians who’ve sought refuge in Europe flip to the one authorized means presently obtainable to them.

In one other distinguished case in Germany, the trial of a former Syrian physician charged with crimes towards humanity is because of open subsequent week.

Raslan remained impassive as his sentence was learn out in courtroom, sporting a inexperienced winter jacket and listening to the decision via headphones.

‘Fists, wires and whips’

Prosecutors say he oversaw rape and sexual abuse, “electrical shocks”, beatings with “fists, wires and whips” and “sleep deprivation” on the jail.

Witnesses reported flogging, electrical shocks, cigarette burns and blows to the genitals. Some say they had been hung by the wrists, with solely the information of their ft nonetheless touching the bottom.

One man testified about mass graves that he was answerable for cataloguing.

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Photographs of useless Syrians smuggled overseas by “Caesar”, a defector who had labored as a photographer for the Syrian army police, had been additionally used as proof within the trial.

Raslan has by no means tried to cover his previous and instructed police about his time in Syria in February 2015 when he sought police safety in Berlin.

In keeping with the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, at the very least 60,000 individuals have been killed below torture or on account of the horrible situations in Assad’s detention centres.

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