Caesar, the defected officer who took pictures of 11,000 detainees killed in Bashar Assad’s prisons and who smuggled a huge cache of evidence showing the "systematic killing" of prisoners may testify in a scheduled U.N. Security Council vote on Thursday on a resolution to refer Syria's civil war to the International Criminal Court, a well-informed source told Zaman al-Wasl.
The U.S., which has agreed to support the draft resolution may provide the valuable witness to the Security Council, the source said.
The defector, who for security reasons is identified only as "Caesar", was a photographer with the Syrian military police. He smuggled the images out of the country on memory sticks to a contact in the Syrian National Coalition, which is supported by the Gulf state of Qatar. Qatar, which has financed and armed rebel groups, has called for the overthrow of Assad and demanded his prosecution.
Caesar told investigators his job was to take pictures of killed detainees. He did not claim to have witnessed executions or torture, but described a highly bureaucratic system.
The U.S agreed on the draft after ensuring that Israel would be protected from any possible prosecution at the ICC related to its occupation of the Golan Heights in Syria, U.N. diplomats said.
Despite Russia's opposition, a senior U.N. Security Council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters, described the planned vote as "the right thing to do." He said: "The time has come when the situation should be referred to ICC."
It will be Russia's fourth veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria. Moscow has shielded its ally Syrian President Assad and his government from strong action by the 15-member council during the conflict.
The ICC prosecutor cannot investigate the situation in Syria without a referral from the 15-member Security Council because Damascus is not a member of the Rome Statute that established court a decade ago. The Security Council has previously referred Libya and Darfur, Sudan to the international court.
U.N. investigators said in March that they had expanded their list of suspected war criminals from both sides in the civil war and that the evidence was solid enough to prepare any court indictment.
U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay told the Security Council last month that human rights violations by Syrian government forces "far outweigh" those by armed opposition groups.
Eleven countries on the Security Council are members of the International Criminal Court. The United States, Russia, China and Rwanda are not.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer