A group of German lawyers have filed a criminal complaint against Bashar al-Assad on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Speaking at a press conference in Berlin on Monday, attorney Mehmet Daimaguler said they were optimistic the federal prosecutor will open a formal investigation following their complaint.
German law allows prosecutions under the principle of universal jurisdiction, under which countries can pursue foreigners for crimes committed abroad.
The lawyers cited Amnesty International reports and individual accounts by asylum-seekers in Germany in arguing that there is overwhelming evidence of multiple atrocities committed by Assad in Aleppo between April and November.
Attorney Mehmet Daimaguler said: “We’re experiencing genocide in Aleppo in slow motion,” citing the targeted bombing of hospitals, cluster bombs on civilians and forced expulsion.
“The incidents in Aleppo are well documented by international observers, by the UN and the Human Rights Watch,” Daimaguler said, adding that they listed nearly 50 incidents, including airstrikes that targeted residential areas, hospitals and humanitarian facilities based on reliable reports and statements of witnesses.
Attorney Jens Dieckmann said there was sufficient information showing Assad bore responsibility for war crimes committed in Aleppo.
“As a president, al-Assad is responsible for the entire actions of the government and the military policy,” Dieckmann said, adding that as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Assad also bore direct responsibility for the crimes committed in aleppo.
Almost 18,000 Syrians have died in the Assad regime’s jails since 2011. The regime uses torture, beatings, electric shocks and rape against prisoners on a “massive scale,” Amnesty International said in August. In May 2015, the rights group said that the indiscriminate bombardment of Aleppo by the Assad regime amounts to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The United Nations said Saturday that the number of children trapped in besieged areas across Syria had doubled in less than a year to half a million.
A report by UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, said the children were among hundreds of thousands of civilians in areas besieged by regime forces, adding that they had been “almost completely cut off from sustained humanitarian aid and basic services.”
The report said some of these areas have received little or no aid in nearly two years, despite repeated efforts by international relief agencies to provide food and medicine. “This is no way to live,” the report said.
More than 508 civilians have been killed and 1,871 others injured since mid-November in regime and Russian aerial and ground bombardment in Aleppo. In the past 10 days, all hospitals and medical facilities have been put out of service because of attacks. Schools have also closed. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office + Agencies)