Germany arrests five suspected of war crimes in Syria

German police arrested four stateless Syrian Palestinians and one Syrian national suspected of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in Syria some 10 years ago, prosecutors said.

Publication: 03.07.2024 - 13:59
Germany arrests five suspected of war crimes in Syria
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The men, identified in line with German privacy laws only as Jihad A., Mahmoud A., Sameer S. and Wael S. are suspected to have been affiliated with the Free Palestine Movement armed militia in Syria. Mazhar J. is suspected to have been a Syrian Intelligence Officer, said prosecutors in a statement on Wednesday.

"The individuals ... are strongly suspected of killing and attempting to kill civilians (which) qualified as crimes against humanity and war crimes," the statement said.

Jihad A., Mazhar J. and Sameer S. were arrested in Berlin, Mahmoud A. in Frankenthal in the south-western state of Rhineland-Palatinate and Wael S. in the north-eastern state of Mecklenburg Vorpommern, said prosecutors.

The individuals are suspected of participating in a violent crackdown on a peaceful anti-government protest in Al Yarmouk in July 2012, in which civilian protesters were targeted and shot at. Six individuals died and others were seriously injured, said prosecutors.

The suspected militia members are also accused of punching and kicking civilians between 2012 and 2014 at checkpoints and beating them with rifle butts, according to prosecutors.

One individual was handed over to the Syrian Military Intelligence Service to be imprisoned and tortured, they said. In addition, one of the suspects is suspected of having turned in to authorities three people killed in a mass execution of 41 civilians in April 2013.

The arrests were made thanks to Germany's universal jurisdiction laws, which allow courts to prosecute crimes against humanity committed anywhere in the world. Authorities coordinated with Sweden in a joint investigation.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a separate statement it had arrested three people in Sweden for crimes against international law committed in Syria in 2012.