German court convicts alleged Syrian secret service agent of crimes against humanity

A German court on Wednesday convicted alleged Syrian secret service agent Eyad A. of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity and sentenced him to prison for four and a half years.

It was considered as proven that the man “provided assistance to others to seriously deprive 30 people of their physical liberty and to torture them while in custody,” a statement by the Higher Regional Court Koblenz read.

It is the world’s first trial in which a former Syrian official was convicted of crimes against humanity.

The 44-year-old Syrian national was accused of searching streets for fleeing protesters during protests in Douma on the outskirts of Damascus in 2011, before taking arrested people to the detention center Branch 251 for torture.

Eyad A. later fled to Germany, where he was arrested in 2019, along with Anwar R., who is also on trial in the city of Koblenz as a main defendant. The trial of Anwar R. is scheduled to continue with a verdict not expected before the second half of the year.

According to the court, universal jurisdiction was the legal basis for the trial in Germany. It was passed in 2002, allowing crimes to be prosecuted worldwide, regardless of the location of the crime and the nationality of the perpetrator and the victims.