The spokesperson for the Austrian court, Christina Salzborn, has announced that four former senior officials of the Federal Office for Aliens and Asylum Law in Austria have been referred for investigation on charges of abuse of office.
According to the Austrian newspaper “Der Standard,” Salzborn stated on Tuesday that the trial’s first session will take place on April 14 at the Vienna Regional Court, with the possibility of up to four additional sessions.
The case pertains to the Austrian Federal Office’s decision to grant asylum to Brigadier General Khaled al-Halabi, who is accused of committing “crimes against humanity” and torturing detainees while in charge of one of the Syrian regime’s security branches.
Referred to as the “Dean of Torture,” Halabi served as the head of the state security apparatus in Raqqa, Syria from 2009 to 2013. He has been accused of shooting at peaceful protesters during the uprising against the Assad regime, as well as arresting and systematically torturing a number of them, as reported by Amnesty International.
In 2013, Halabi fled Raqqa and travelled to Turkey and later Jordan. He subsequently contacted French intelligence and attempted to apply for asylum in France in 2014 but was denied.
Halabi was smuggled from France to Austria and was granted asylum in December 2015 through an operation known as “White Milk,” in which the Israeli Mossad reportedly participated.
According to an investigation by the Austrian newspaper “Kurier,” the Mossad intervened to transfer Halabi to Austria as a “political refugee” after France decided to investigate him for his alleged crimes.
The investigation indicated that the operation was carried out jointly between Austria and Israel, where Halabi was given asylum with a new name and identity.
The operation caused human rights outrage, with demands that those responsible for granting asylum to Halabi be held accountable. This led to the Austrian authorities indicting Halabi for “war crimes” in Syria and holding him accountable.
However, Halabi is reportedly in hiding, with information suggesting that he fled Austria before he could be arrested and investigated.
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.