Syrian doctor on trial in Germany for crimes against humanity

Accused is alleged to have administered a lethal injection to a prisoner who resisted being beaten

A court in Germany will begin hearing a case against a Syrian doctor accused of crimes against humanity for torturing and killing inmates at a government-run prison in his home country. AP

A Syrian doctor accused of crimes against humanity in Syria including murder and torture went on trial in Frankfurt, Germany on Wednesday.

Alaa Mousa, 36, faces 18 counts of torturing detainees at military hospitals in Homs and Damascus in 2011 and 2012, including setting fire to a teenage boy’s genitals. Prosecutors also accuse him of administering a lethal injection to a prisoner who resisted being beaten.

European courts are pursuing supporters of Bashar Al Assad’s regime who are accused of committing abuses in Syria.

Dr Moussa, who denies the charges, arrived in Germany in 2015 and practised medicine until his detention. He arrived on a visa for skilled workers, and not as a refugee.

Dr Moussa worked in military hospitals to which protesters injured while demonstrating against the Assad regime were brought.

Prosecutors allege that, rather than being treated, many were tortured “and not infrequently killed” in such hospitals amid a crackdown by Syrian authorities.

Reading the charge sheet at the start of the trial, public prosecutor Anna Zabeck accused Dr Mousa of torturing detainees “within the framework of a widespread and systematic attack on civilians”.

In one case, Dr Mousa is accused of pouring flammable liquid on a prisoner’s wounds before setting them on fire and kicking him in the face so hard that three of his teeth had to be replaced.

His case comes a week after another German court handed down a life sentence to a former Syrian intelligence officer for overseeing the murder of 27 people and the torture of 4,000 others at a Damascus detention centre a decade ago.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet described the conviction of Anwar Raslan as “historic” after the end of the first trial worldwide over state-sponsored torture in Syria.

Cases of crimes committed under the Syrian regime have also been pursued in France, Norway and Austria.

Updated: January 19, 2022, 11:53 AM