(Zaman Al Wasl)- After a year in detention in the notorious Saydnaya prison, Mahmoud (pseudonym) was presented on the regime’s counter-terrorism court in the capital, handcuffed and clearly tortured.
At the time, he was charged with terrorism, with no chance of defending himself or of having a lawyer.
After a mock trial that lasted only three minutes, he was transferred in July 2012 to Homs Central Prison, and was placed in the security wing with the “Islamists”.
The case of Mahmoud is similar to thousands of detainees who have been brought before the notorious Court, where there is no place to justice, that it is “not the basis of ruling.”
A report issued by the Violations Documentation Center in Syria, under the title of “Counter-Terrorism Court in Syria,” has proclaimed that this court is “a tool for war crimes”.
The report pointed out that the transfer of Syrian citizens to the court of terrorism is not subject to clear criteria, especially that the charges against them do not exceed the possession of slogans related to the revolution or even their phones containing songs against the regime.
According to a report by the London-based The New Arab, pan-Arab media outlet, the number of cases referred to the court, since its establishment in June 2012, is around 38,000, including 400 women, and hundreds of children arrested on the basis of revolutionary activities.
Judge Muhammad Nour Eddin al-Hamidi, the Secretary-General of the Syrian Justice Assembly , says the establishment of this court was due to the revolutionary movement, and it was created to fight human rights activists and political opposition of the regime by describing them as terrorists and “belonging to extremist terrorist groups.”
Al-Hamidi said the court’s encroachment on the so-called terrorism became clear through the detainees’ suffering in the court throughout the repressive trial procedures that lack the minimum of basic rights set by international standards.
The Article 6 which stands behind the establishing of Terrorism Court is stipulated that the decision issued in absentia cannot be appealed, and is not considered null unless the convicted person surrenders himself voluntarily. If they are arrested, the absentee ruling will not be annulled, but will become final; contrary to the provisions of article 333 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which states that, “If the accused surrendered himself to the government or was arrested before the sentence is dropped, the judgment and all other ongoing transactions, from the issuance of the arrest warrant, shall be considered canceled and a re-trial shall be conducted according to normal directives.”
Al-Hamidi, who served as attorney general in Idlib province before he defected in 2011, revealed aspects of the disadvantages of the court, including a 100 defendants being brought daily to be tried within two hours. The court relied on the confessions made by the accused during the investigation along with security branches that lacked any legal controls and used all kinds of torture in order to extract confessions.
The source added, “The judge does not acknowledge that the accused's statements are being coerced and tortured from them or that the fingerprint was taken on a white paper.” He points out that, “The punishment of those who are tried for terrorism often ranges from three years to execution with heavy fines. The accused is prevented from speaking with his/her family or even an attorney, under constant beatings and humiliation”.
The source added that, “The majority of the judges’ decisions is arrest, often changing the description of the crime to the most severe and imposing on the families of the detainees very high bails; in addition to preventing the court lawyers from copying the case files or talking with their clients. It has nothing to do with the judiciary, it is more like a security branch and the appointment of any staff member is subject to security approval.”
The number of prosecutors in the counter-terrorism court is 15, appointed by decree. The Investigations Section consists of seven departments, each headed by 4 military judges, 3 civilians, with each department having a total of 3,000 cases. Al-Hamidi explained that an investigating judge of this court has the power of the referral judge, as well as powers to interrogate the detainee without the presence of a lawyer, the lawyer is only allowed a release once a month. Judges are exempted from observing the rules and procedures stipulated in the legislation in force in all proceedings of the trial.
Zaman Al Wasl