A Syrian doctor has been charged in Germany with crimes against humanity for allegedly torturing people in military hospitals in his country and killing one of them, German federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Karlsruhe said in a statement that Alla Mousa, who arrived in Germany in 2015 and practiced medicine before being arrested last year, has been charged with 18 counts of torturing people in military hospitals in the Syrian cities of Homs and Damascus. The allegations include accusations that Mousa tried to make people sterile.
A federal indictment charged him with murder, grievous bodily harm, attempted bodily harm and dangerous bodily harm, the statement said.
Prosecutors said that after the start of the opposition uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2011, protesters were frequently arrested and tortured. Injured civilians believed to be members of the opposition were also taken to military hospitals, where they were tortured and sometimes killed.
In February, a German court convicted a former member of Assad’s secret police for facilitating the torture of prisoners, in a landmark move that human rights activists say would set a precedent for other cases in the ten-year conflict.
Eyad Al-Gharib was found guilty of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity and sentenced by the Koblenz State Court to four and a half years in prison.
It was the first time that a court outside Syria had ruled on a case alleging that Syrian government officials had committed crimes against humanity. German prosecutors invoked the principle of universal jurisdiction for serious crimes to bring the case involving victims and defendants to Germany.
In the present case, prosecutors accuse the Syrian doctor of pouring alcohol on the genitals of a teenager and another man and setting them on fire with a lighter at military hospital no. ° 608 from Homs. He is also accused of torturing nine other people in the same hospital in 2011 by kicking and punching them.
The indictment also alleges that Mousa kicked and beat an imprisoned man who was having a seizure. A few days later, the doctor gave the man medicine and he subsequently died without the exact cause of death being clearly identified, German prosecutors said.
The indictment lists other cases of alleged torture at Homs Military Hospital, including people hanging from the ceiling and beaten with a plastic baton, and pouring flammable liquids on the hand of one of them. ‘them and burning it. Mousa is also accused of kicking the open and infected wound of another patient, pouring disinfectant into it and setting it on fire.
In one case in 2012, Mousa allegedly beat and kicked an inmate severely. When the man defended himself by kicking him, Mousa punched him to the ground with the help of a nurse and shortly after administered a poisonous substance that killed the detainee, German prosecutors say .
In addition to the allegations of torture at the Homs military hospital, Mousa is also accused of abusing detainees at the Mezzeh No 601 military hospital in Damascus between late 2011 and March 2012.
The secretary general of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights welcomed Mousa’s indictment. “Serious crimes against Syrian civil society are not only perpetrated in the detention centers of the intelligence services. Syria’s system of torture and extermination is complex and only exists with the support of a wide variety of actors, ”Wolfgang Kaleck said in a statement. “With the trial [of Mousa], the role of military hospitals and medical personnel in this system could be addressed for the very first time. “
Kaleck noted that the trial could also be important in terms of addressing sexual violence. “Sexual violence is being used as a weapon – systematically and intentionally – against opposition in Syria,” Kaleck said, adding that Mousa’s trial could “send an important signal to the many survivors who have remained silent so far” .