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German court finds Syrian colonel guilty of crimes against humanity

In a landmark case, a German court has sentenced a Syrian colonel to life in prison over charges of crimes against humanity. The individual, Anwar Raslan was linked to the torture of over 4,000 people in Syria’s civil war. Raslan reportedly operated in a jail that was referred to as “Hell on Earth.” The 58-year-old’s trial was the first even criminal case brought over state-led torture in Syria. The trial took place in Koblenz after Raslan was arrested in Germany in 2019. Raslan initially successfully sough asylum in the country, and denied all charges against him. However, he was eventually accused of being a high-ranking security service officer under President Bashar al-Assad.

Raslan reportedly directed operations in a jail designed to hold protestors and others suspected of opposing the regime. The facility, Al-Khatib, was located in Damascus. Raslan was charged with 58 murders, rape, sexual assault, and the torture of at least 4,000 people held there between 2011 and 2012. The ruling has significant implications, especially for those who survived Al-Khatib. In addition, a criminal court has now formally recognized that crimes against humanity were perpetrated by the Assad regime against its own citizens during the country’s civil war.

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