Life imprisonment for Anwar Raslan..the second harshest sentence in German law

Life imprisonment for Anwar Raslan..the second harshest sentence in German law
Life imprisonment for Anwar Raslan..the second harshest sentence in German law

Starting at six in the morning, in an atmosphere approaching zero temperature, a queue of former Syrian detainees, and the families of the victims who had escaped from detention, lined up in front of the gate of the Koblenz Court, to witness the historic moment in which the city court will announce its verdict regarding the former Syrian intelligence officer, Colonel Anwar Raslan.

Those wishing to attend the trial came from several countries, including personal claimants, witnesses, members of human rights organizations, media professionals, and interested activists. The courtroom did not accommodate them, so dozens of them remained outside the hall, awaiting the verdict, with their eyes fixed on the court’s door.

A number of the crowd raised pictures of victims believed to have gone missing or died under torture in the al-Khatib branch, where Anwar Raslan worked.

But the case that was most striking to the attention of the German and international media was the case of the young Syrian woman, Yasmine Al-Mashaan, who broke down in tears while waiting at the door of the court, carrying on her chest a plate crowded with pictures of five young men, who turned out to be her brothers who died in multiple ways.

Referring to the photos, Yasmine told Al-Modon, “This is my brother Uqba. He was arrested in March 2012. We recognized a picture of his body in Caesar’s archives. This is my older brother Tishreen. He was 40 years old. He was targeted by a sniper from the regime’s sniper while he was inside his house in 2012.” And this Ubaidah was working as a paramedic. He was martyred while he was treating one of the wounded by a sniper from the regime forces as well. This is my brother Zuhair. He was martyred in the massacre committed by the regime against the people of Deir ez-Zor when they gathered near the Arab League delegation, and he was a student, and the latter is Bashar. ISIS arrested him in 2014, and we were told that the organization had slaughtered him, and we consider ISIS as one of the regime’s tools to kill us.

Yasmine continued, “Whatever the ruling will be issued, it will not be meaningful if we do not follow it. It will only be the beginning of our work and dedication to the cause of our detainees and the forcibly disappeared, and we will not be satisfied with it, but we will make it a guide to continue holding all members of the regime accountable, right up to Bashar al-Assad.” This is only what comforts the souls of our martyrs, and it is the achievement of the goal for which they sacrificed their lives.”

The preparations for announcing the court’s ruling did not take more than an hour, after which those who were able to attend live to announce the verdict came out to tell us that Anwar Raslan had been sentenced to life in prison, with full costs for those affected.

Al-Modon went to lawyer Tariq Hokan, who has been following the case since its inception, and asked him about the meaning of “life imprisonment” in German law. He said: “This sentence means life imprisonment, but the convict has the right to apply for release after fifteen years, and the prison authorities have the discretion The case depends on the health condition and on his behavior. The sentence is the second maximum penalty in German law, and the highest is a hard life imprisonment, and whoever is inflicted with it is not entitled to apply for release.”

Lawyer Hokan, who is the director of the legal office of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, also said that “the Supreme Regional Court issued the ruling, under universal jurisdiction, because the victims and the accused are not holders of German citizenship, but both are on its territory.” He explained that Raslan’s lawyer has the right to appeal the ruling before the German Federal Supreme Court, and this can return the case file to the Koblenz Court, if it turns out that the legal procedures were not followed completely, and the Koblenz court should then reconsider the ruling.

But Hokan ruled out any change in the verdict due to the large amount of irrefutable evidence that convicts the accused. He expressed his satisfaction with the ruling, because it confirmed the “narrative” that millions of Syrians spoke about ten years ago, with a final court ruling, and no longer just human rights or media reports, despite their importance, that remain without a solid legal basis.

The verdict was widely accepted among the families of the victims, activists and Syrian opponents. Lawyer Muhammad Sabra, a brother of an unknown detainee for several years, said that the sentence imposed on Anwar Raslan “is a small step to achieve justice for the martyrs and detainees, although it was not issued in the context of accountability.” The comprehensive system that we demand… Although the ruling condemned Anwar Raslan because of his individual actions, it is a condemnation of the system as a whole, since Raslan is just a member of it, and he committed his crime thanks to the authority granted to him from the highest pyramid of that regime, that is, from Bashar al-Assad in particular.

He called Sabra to be strict in demanding comprehensive justice for the Syrian victims, as happened with Anwar Raslan, and to stay away from methods and concepts that dilute the human rights issue, such as the concept of transitional justice, according to which Raslan, for example, would rule from three to five years only. “Ruslan’s trial and the verdict issued against him is a ceiling that we may not waive or accept anything lower than it.”

Anwar Raslan had written a closing argument, which was read in the courtroom, on January 11, in which he explained in detail his role since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution until his defection, denying the charges against him, and affirming his dissatisfaction with what the security establishment of which he was a member, describing His inability to do anything to oppose the method of work that was followed, and he said, verbatim: “This is my message to the whole Syrian people, I am very sorry that I could not help you more than that! I could not prevent the killing machine.” He concluded by saying that he would accept the court’s decision, whatever it was, because he believed in “German justice.”

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