Assad officers face landmark Paris trial over killing of scholar and father | Syria

Assad officers face landmark Paris trial over killing of scholar and father | Syria

At midnight on 3 November 2013, 5 Syrian officers dragged arts and humanities scholar Patrick Dabbagh from his residence within the Mezzeh district of Damascus.

The next day, on the identical hour, the identical males, together with a consultant of the Syrian air drive’s intelligence unit, returned with a dozen troopers to arrest the 20-year-old’s father Mazzen.

They accused the 48-year-old schooling counsellor on the metropolis’s French lycée of failing to boost his son correctly. “We’ll educate you to teach him,” they mentioned, however no particular purpose was given for his or her arrest.

It might be the final time anybody of their household would see them. For nearly 5 years after their arrest, nothing was heard of the boys, each Franco-Syrian, till July 2018, when the authorities issued certificates stating Patrick Dabbagh had died in January 2014 and Mazzen Dabbagh in November 2017. No reason behind demise was given and the our bodies weren’t returned to the household.

Patrick Dabbagh and his father died after their arrest in 2013.

On Tuesday, three high-ranking Syrian officers will go on trial in Paris accused of involvement in crimes towards humanity and warfare crimes linked to their disappearance and demise.

Ali Mamlouk, 78, head of the Syrian secret companies and safety adviser to President Bashar al-Assad, Jamil Hassan, 72, head of the Syrian air drive intelligence unit till 2019 and a member of Assad’s entourage, and Abdel Salam Mahmoud, in his early 60s, intelligence director on the infamous Mezzeh detention centre the place father and son are believed to have been held, are accused of complicity of their arrest, torture and deaths.

Trials of Syrians have taken place within the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, however it’s the first time such high-ranking figures near Assad can be held to account.

The accused is not going to be in courtroom however campaigners say the case bolsters requires common justice and offers hope to the households of greater than 111,000 individuals who have disappeared in Syria since 2011.

Mazzen Dabbagh was a counsellor on the French Lycée in Damascus.

“It’s historic as a result of these are probably the most senior officers from the Syrian regime to be placed on trial,” mentioned Clémence Bectarte, a French lawyer representing the Dabbagh household.

“It’s essential not just for the Dabbagh household however for a lot of different Syrians. There are households of people that have disappeared who’re nonetheless ready for information of their family members or the our bodies of those that have been killed. It’s nonetheless very a lot a up to date drawback.”

The Syrian battle started with protests and Arab spring pro-democracy rallies in 2011 and escalated into civil warfare, with a mass rebellion towards Assad the next 12 months.

Greater than 15,000 Syrians are believed to have been tortured to demise by Syrian intelligence officers. Greater than 230,000 civilians, together with 30,000 youngsters, are reported to have been killed within the battle, in accordance with the Syrian Community for Human Rights.

Regardless of the warfare, Assad has been rehabilitated within the Arab world over the previous 12 months, invited to Arab League summits and conferences with different regional leaders.

The trial highlights the rising dedication of European states to prosecute crimes towards humanity, warfare crimes and genocide underneath the precept of common jurisdiction, which permits international locations to attempt perpetrators no matter their nationality or the place the crimes had been dedicated.

In November final 12 months, France issued a world arrest warrant for Assad for using chemical weapons towards civilians.

Three others, together with Assad’s brother, Maher, had been additionally indicted over using banned sarin gasoline in two assaults in August 2013 that killed greater than 1,000 folks, together with a whole bunch of youngsters.

It’s believed to be the primary time a sitting head of state has been the topic of an arrest warrant in a 3rd nation for crimes towards humanity. A French courtroom is predicted to resolve whether or not the investigation into Assad can go forward later this month.

France arrange a selected warfare crimes unit in 2012, however till now the precept of common justice has been constrained by the requirement for both accused or sufferer to have a tangible connection to France, by way of nationality or residence.

Clémence Bectarte, lawyer to the 2 males who disappeared, is flanked by Mazzen’s brother Obeida Dabbagh as she arrives at a Paris courthouse in 2016. {Photograph}: Stéphane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Photographs

Throughout the French investigation that led to the fees towards the three officers within the Dabbagh case, greater than 20 Syrians, most of them survivors of Mezzeh jail, described circumstances on the jail in addition to detailing the chain of command within the intelligence companies on the time the daddy and son had been detained.

Bectarte says the trial wouldn’t be doable with out their testimony of “the horrible actuality of the crimes dedicated within the jails of Bashar al-Assad”.

“At a time when the Syrian regime appears to come back out unpunished for all of the atrocities dedicated, it’s important that this trial, a part of a protracted struggle towards impunity, qualifies the regime’s crimes and maintain accountable its highest officers,” she mentioned. “The objective is there must be no escape from justice. This is not going to be the final trial.”

Mazen Darwish, of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression, added: “Past Mazzen and Patrick Dabbagh, there are a whole bunch of hundreds of Syrian women and men who’ve died through the Syrian battle, particularly by the hands of Bashar al-Assad’s regime and whose households are nonetheless ready for justice.”

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Written by bourbiza mohamed

Bourbiza Mohamed is a freelance journalist and political science analyst holding a Master's degree in Political Science. Armed with a sharp pen and a discerning eye, Bourbiza Mohamed contributes to various renowned sites, delivering incisive insights on current political and social issues. His experience translates into thought-provoking articles that spur dialogue and reflection.

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