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German prosecutors charge Syrian doctor with murder, torture

 A Syrian doctor living in Germany who was arrested on suspicion of having committed crimes against humanity in Syria faces more charges including one case of murder, German prosecutors said Monday.

The suspect, identified as Alaa M., was arrested on June 19.

He was first charged with two instances of torturing detainees at a prison run by Syrian intelligence services in the city of Homs in 2011.

But prosecutors said he now stands accused of far more violations than initially thought — including for allegedly killing one person and another 18 counts of torture.

Alaa M. was a doctor at the military prison in Homs in 2011 when he allegedly carried out horrific abuses including setting fire to the genitals of a teenager.

In 2012, he sought out a detainee whose wounds became infected and who had been transferred to a military hospital.

Together with two other officers, Alaa M. allegedly kicked and beat the prisoner, and poured flammable liquids on his wounds before setting them on fire.

He also kicked and beat the detainee, who subsequently lost consciousness.

Several days later, Alaa M. is accused of going to the particularly detainee’s prison cell, where he went on to beat and kick the 20 other prisoners in the cell.

One of them, named only as O., sought to defend himself.

“Shortly after, the defendant administered an injection with a lethal substance into his upper arm, from which he died a few minutes later,” said prosecutors.

Alaa M. left Syria in mid-2015 and moved to Germany, where he also practiced as a doctor.

Syria’s civil war, which started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests, has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced nearly half the country’s pre-conflict population.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group estimates that at least 100,000 people have died from torture or as a result of horrific conditions in government prisons.

Half a million people have gone through Syrian jails since 2011, it says.

Several thousand people have died over the same period in prisons run by jihadists or other rebel groups, according to the Observatory.

Having taken in more than 700,000 Syrian refugees since the start of the conflict, Germany has become a sometimes surreal theater where victims of torture come face to face with their suspected torturers in the streets.

In April, the first court case worldwide over state-sponsored torture by Bashar Assad’s regime opened in Germany — after the suspects were brought to the attention of the authorities by their victims.

The two defendants, former Syrian intelligence officers Anwar Raslan and Eyad Al-Gharib, are being tried on the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows a foreign country to prosecute crimes against humanity.


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