The witness entered the courtroom in Koblenz with his lawyer and fiancee from the door for witnesses close to the present audience wearing a hat on his head, an oversized oily jacket, black sunglasses and face mask.
During the forty-sixth session, from the trial of the intelligence officer "Anwar Raslan", all the means of protection that the witness himself surrounded were not sufficient to prevent us from feeling his apparent anxiety through his walk. For the first time, one of those arriving with witnesses from their relatives chooses to sit next to the witness, as his fiancée did, and not to remain in the crowd.
The witness’s lawyer began by informing the court about the need to keep the witness anonymous, and about leaks and threats that may target his family members in Syria.
Afterwards, the defendant’s lawyer, Anwar Raslan, intervened: “I do not find a justification for keeping him hidden, it is natural for information to come out from the trial, as it is a public trial. Whatever we do, the situation in Syria is the same. People there are always wanted for security. What we do here will not change anything from the reality there.”
The witness’s lawyer replied that the issue was greater than that, and started talking about a “fax” that was sent urgently the day before. The lawyer sent it to the court’s judges, telling them some of what had happened, without disclosing more information to the attendees.
* Evacuate the room
In the trial sessions of the defendants Anwar Raslan and Iyad al-Gharib, we, as the public, are accustomed to the occurrence of long discussions between the parties to the case, each of them attributing his request to conceal the witness or reveal him to a legal text, and their discussions end after the judges ’panel is convinced of one of the two options and a decision is issued in this regard.
Nowadays, everything was completely different. According to the witness’s lawyer, there is something dangerous for him, which made the judge go to the presence of the press and documented people and say: “Please attendees to vacate the room immediately.”
It was an unexpected surprise, that the present was asked to leave a public trial, meaning that the matter had become more than serious for them, and only the parties to the case had to be informed - without the public present - of the reality of the threat.
Five minutes was between asking us to go out as an audience and asking us again to enter, but it bore many questions among us who used to attend all the trial sessions so far.
In the hall, the decision was made in favor of keeping the witness hidden, it seems that what his lawyer showed them did not need much talk about it.
The witness sat in front of the judges, trying to hide the features of his face by the face mask and the black glasses. Each of his lawyer and his fiancée sat on his right, and on his left was one of the court interpreters.
The witness underwent two detention trials for the "Al-Khatib Branch" during 2011 and 2012, and he informed the judges in detail about these two bitter experiences; One of them left a permanent scar on his face, which I (the author of the report) could see clearly when I met him after he gave his testimony.
“They handcuffed me to a wheelchair and brought me into the ambulance department. Five fully armed security officers surrounded me and started shouting at the hospital, calling me a terrorist and a sniper, which led to a state of panic among the attendees who rushed to throw me with insults” he said.
“Then, a doctor came to me asking for my name, and before I answered him, one of the officers interrupted him saying; his name is 3. So, I simply turned to the number three. I think they wanted to obliterate my identity in the event I die in the hospital” he added.
Even the doctors and the ambulance department dealt with him cruelly, as he told the judges. At this point, none of us (those of us present) needed to see the hidden features of his face, to realize the magnitude of the pain emanating from his words.
After he was taken out of the hospital loaded with medicines and prescriptions, the security forces threw them all and tore up the prescriptions, saying, "You must die, not be treated."
On the second day of his stay in the Al-Khatib branch, he was summoned to interrogation, and he was barely able to see the luxurious office in which one investigator had distinguished his shape with a glance.
The investigator asked him about one of his relatives, and when the witness answered an answer that the interrogator did not like, he approached him and slapped him on the face twice, and then hit him with a knee on his stomach.
Corner in hell
“After I saw his picture on the Internet, after his arrest in Germany, I knew him. He was the one who hit me, it was Anwar Raslan, and I can confirm that 90% he was him,” the witness told the judges.
They asked him to look again at the accused, and to refer to him personally from among the lawyers and translators sitting with him. The witness looked at Raslan, and with a signal from his hand, he confirmed that it was him.
Although his tone of voice was sometimes shaken and his memory was exhausted with the details of the arrest that he had to bring to inform the judges after all those years had passed, the witness did not ask for a rest for six hours except twice, each of which did not exceed a quarter of an hour.
The witness did not forget to inform the judges about the deaths he saw in detention, about a young man whose nails were pulled out and severely tortured, and about another who lost his mind as a result of not sleeping and sitting for four consecutive days, as he began urinating in his clothes and talking to himself.
He also told them about children under the age of 15 who were tortured in a brutal manner and were placed in a corner of the "big dormitory" in the Al-Khatib branch, "a corner" that was designated for "hopeless" cases.
He told them about his suicidal thoughts during his second detention in the Arbaeen Branch (headed by Hafez Makhlouf) after he was parked next to the emergency stairs in the building, and there he decided for a moment to throw himself as a result of severe torture and despair.
He continued: "Infections were a very common condition among the detainees due to the intensity of the heat (because the ceiling was iron and the numbers were large inside the dormitory), and no matter how simple the wound was, it turned into a bad infection within two days.”
The parties to the case did not help the six hours of the session to ask all the questions they had, so they decided to complete the hearing of the witness the next day (on November 26), and during a session that lasted about an hour and a half, the judge ended it with the word "thank you", she said to the witness in Arabic, not in German , Announcing the end of listening to him.
In front of the main door and after everyone had left, I met the witness face to face for the first time. He did not smoke heavily or turn around as much as the previous day, his tone still bears some anxiety.
"I received a letter two days before my testimony from one of the media outlets stating that it knew I was coming to court despite my prior agreement with the Judicial Committee to keep my name and picture and everything that would reveal my identity secret, so how did it come to the press ?!, that was a sufficient reason to think not to come to the court." The session, I felt a real threat, it was not supposed to happen. "
This is what the witness told me in front of the court door, trying to clarify what the parties involved in the case had when they took us out of the hall.
He added: “After entering the courtroom, I felt that I was in a position of strength and justice.”
Reporting by Luna Watfeh
Zaman Al Wasl