After a year in detention in the notorious Saydnaya prison, Mahmoud (pseudonym) was put before the regime’s counter-terrorism court in the capital, handcuffed and showing clear signs of torture.
At the time, he was charged with terrorism, with no chance of defending himself or of having a lawyer.
In July 2012, after a show trial that lasted only three minutes, he was transferred 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 for justice.”
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 is not subject to clear criteria, especially since the charges against them do not exceed the use of slogans related to the revolution or their phones containing songs against the regime.
According to a report by the London-based pan-Arab media outlet, The New Arab, 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, who were arrested and accused of revolutionary activities.
Judge Muhammad Nour Eddin al-Hamidi, the Secretary-General of the opposition’s Syrian Justice Council, says the establishment of this court was due to the revolutionary movement, and it was created to suppress human rights activists and political opposition to the regime by describing them as terrorists and “belonging to extremist organizations.”
Hamidi said that there is a complete lack of basic rights set by international standards during the repressive trials.
Hamidi, who had served as attorney general in Idleb province before he defected in 2011, revealed aspects of the court, including a 100 defendants being brought daily and tried within two hours. The court relied on 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.
He added, “The judge does not acknowledge that the accused’s statements are being coerced by torture 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, and face constant beatings and humiliation”.
The number of prosecutors in the counter-terrorism court is 15, appointed by the President. The Investigations Section consists of seven departments, each headed by four military judges and three civilians, with each department having a total of 3,000 cases. 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 being only allowed a visit once a month. Judges are exempt from observing the rules and procedures stipulated in the legislation in force in all proceedings of the trial.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.