The French magazine Le Point has devoted many pages to a full dossier on the prosecution of war criminals from Syria in Europe.
In a report written by the Syrian journalist Dahham al-Assad and French journalist Guillaume Perrier, the newspaper explored the hope of dragging war criminals before European courts, where more than 80 proceedings have been brought and 11 trials have started. Two-thirds of these investigations concern al-Assad regime officials.
Le Point’s report, with many installments to come, focused on the work of activists and jurists interested in gathering information and monitoring victims. They focused on the trial of Anwar Raslan, a former intelligence officer, who stands accused of overseeing the torture of at least 4,000 detainees, 58 of whom died under torture in the notorious Al-Khatib branch in Damascus for which he was responsible.
Investigative journalist Assad said that, two years ago, he and Perrier began working on an investigation that pursues war criminals associated with the Assad regime. Their dossier addresses the controversy over EU courts claiming universal jurisdiction to hear such matters.
The investigation focused, Assad says, on receiving testimonies from Syrian organizations and people who participated in the investigations and have cooperated with police against war criminals or suspects in Europe. These organizations include the Syrian Archives, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, the Caesar Women’s Association, and the War Crimes Unit in Sweden, Germany, and France.
These organizations have consistently tracked suspected criminals and gathered evidence to be brought before European courts under the principle of universal jurisdiction, as has happened in many similar, previous cases.
Assad, born in 1989 in Palmyra, eastern Homs, participated in the investigation of 45-year-old Perrier, who has been working in the Middle East for 20 years. Since 2011, Perrier has covered the war in Syria and its developments, working as a correspondent for the Le Monde newspaper in Istanbul between 2004 and 2014. In 2019, Perrier was awarded the Grand Prix de la Presse Internationale in Paris. He has written four books and made several documentaries on Turkey and the Middle East.
In an interview with Zaman al-Wasl, Perrier noted that chemical warfare is one of the most important topics he highlighted by his investigation with the journalist Assad. The investigation explains how the Syrian Archives documented these crimes in thousands of videos. The German and French governments handed over these videos, along with full files, through the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. Hence the investigation shows how these governments assumed responsibility for formulating the cases in preparation for a future trial.
“In our investigations, we have tried to allow oppressed Syrians, witnesses, and victims’ relatives to find their voices and put pressure on European governments to prosecute the files of war criminals properly,” he said.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.