Germany opens landmark trial of Syrian regime officers accused of crimes against humanity
Yesterday, Germany began a landmark trial of Colonel Anwar Raslan, a former high ranking Syrian regime officer who is on trial for overseeing the torture of thousands of prisoners. Raslan worked for Syrian intelligence services before defecting in 2012, a year before the beginning of the Syrian civil war. Raslan was arrested in Berlin last February, charged with crimes against humanity.
Raslan and a former junior officer were arrested under the principle of universal jurisdiction. This gives national court jurisdiction over serious crimes against international law even when they were committed in a different country. International tribunal set-up attempts have been blocked by Russian and Chinese vetoes at the UN Security Council. Raslan’s trial is the first court proceeding against one of Bashar al-Assad’s former regime members.