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German Court Tries Syrians on Charges of Prison Torture, Deaths
Eyad A., one of two Syrians on trial in Germany in connection with prison torture and deaths, arrives for the first day of the case at a court in Koblenz. (Thomas Lohnes/AFP via Getty Images)

German Court Tries Syrians on Charges of Prison Torture, Deaths

A court in Koblenz, Germany, began hearing arguments on Thursday against two Syrians suspected of involvement in torture and deaths at prisons operated by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The defendants, identified under national privacy laws only as Anwar R. and Eyad A., arrived in Germany in 2014 and 2018, respectively. Anwar R. is charged with 58 murders in a Damascus prison, while Eyad A. is suspected of having been involved in the torture of opposition activists detained after an anti-Assad protest in 2011. Both of these charges are considered crimes against humanity, and the German prosecutors say the men are being tried under universal jurisdiction laws. Anwar al-Bunni, a human rights lawyer who claims to have been jailed at the Damascus prison where the defendant Anwar R. is accused of having served, said: “Arbitrary arrests and torture are the main weapon used by the Assad regime to spread fear among Syrians and suppress their demands for democracy and justice. This trial will break the immunity of the criminals in Syria, from the head of the regime all the way down.” Assad and others in his government have denied claims of torture and arbitrary deaths in Syrian prisons.

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