Wednesday, 30 May 2018 21:13

Victims of Torture File Criminal Complaint Against Assad Regime in Austrian Courts

Victims of torture by the Assad regime have filed criminal complaint against Assad in law courts in the Austrian capital of Vienna, citing the arbitrary arrests and torture of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

The victims accused the Assad regime’s military intelligence, the air force intelligence, and the general security branch of systematic torture of detainees in the prisons they run. The accusations also included murder, extermination, causing serious physical damage, and deprivation of freedom which amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The complaints were filed together with the Syrian lawyer Anwar al-Bunni (Syrian Center for Legal Research and Studies, SCLSR) and Mazen Darwish (Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, SCM) as well as the Center for the Enforcement of Human Rights International (CEHRI) in Vienna and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin. The lawyers worked closely with the Syrian survivors to compile the complaint.

“They survived torture and detention in Syria and fled to Europe, where they now hope to obtain justice. Austrian authorities should follow the example set in Germany, Sweden and France and initiate investigations into systematic torture under Syrian president Bashar al-Assad,” said the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in a statement Tuesday.

“To help achieve this goal, on 28 May 2018, 16 Syrian women and men filed a criminal complaint with the prosecutor in Vienna. The complaint against 24 senior officials in the Assad government is the first of its kind in Austria and follows four similar complaints under consideration by the Office of the Federal Public Prosecutor in Germany,” the statement added.

“I’m one of many women who have experienced suffering as a result of torture in Syria. It continues until this day,” said Hanada Al Refai, an activist who was held in a subterranean cell in the Harasta Branch of the Air Force Intelligence in Damascus for seven months and was severely tortured during this time. “My participation in this criminal complaint is a desire to achieve justice.”

Ahmad Khalil, another victim of Assad torture machine, said he was arrested by the Military Intelligence because he participated in peaceful protests against Assad and held in branch 215 in Damascus for three months. After being released, he identified more than 50 corpses in the “Caesar” photos. “As a survivor and a witness I see it as my duty to contribute to hold those who are responsible for the system of torture in Syria accountable.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)

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