Small Wars Journal

Germany Seeks Arrest of Leading Syrian General on War Crimes Charges

Germany Seeks Arrest of Leading Syrian General on War Crimes Charges by Louisa Loveluck – Washington Post

Germany’s chief prosecutor has issued an international arrest warrant for one of Syria’s most senior military officials, lawyers said Friday, in a landmark step for legal efforts against members of President Bashar al-Assad’s security apparatus.

The move against Jamil Hassan, head of Syria’s powerful Air Force Intelligence Directorate, marks an important milestone for prosecutors and other lawyers who are trying to bring senior members of Assad’s security apparatus to trial in Europe on charges of war crimes.

The detention centers run by Air Force Intelligence, where thousands are believed to have died because of torture or neglect, are among the most notorious in Syria. The charges filed with Germany’s Federal Court of Justice claim that Hassan had command responsibility over Air Force Intelligence facilities and that he must have known of the abuse.

With Syria’s military on a path to victory in the country’s long civil conflict and few indications that those responsible for alleged war crimes will be tried at an international tribunal, lawyers have turned to the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows national courts to investigate certain international crimes. Most cases brought so far focus on a culture of torture and abuse inside government-run detention centers…

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