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Germany charges Syrian doctor with crimes against humanity, torture

Published: Updated:

A Syrian doctor living in Germany has been charged with crimes against humanity including torture and one case of murder, prosecutors said Wednesday, in Germany’s latest move against alleged abuses committed in Syria.

The suspect, identified as Alaa M., was arrested on June 19, 2020 and initially charged with two instances of torturing detainees at a prison in the city of Homs in 2011.

But he has now been charged with a slew of additional crimes, including killing one person and another 18 counts of torture.

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Alaa M. worked as a doctor at military hospitals in Homs and Damascus in 2011 and 2012, when he allegedly carried out horrific abuses including setting fire to the genitals of a teenager.

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

In another, he allegedly administered a lethal injection to a prisoner who tried to resist being beaten.

He is also accused of torturing a detainee who was suffering from epilepsy by punching him in the face, hitting him with a plastic pipe and kicking him in the head.

The man died a few days later, shortly after taking a tablet given to him by Alaa M., though the cause of death is unclear.

Alaa M. left Syria in mid-2015 and moved to Germany, where he also practiced as a doctor.

Syria’s civil war, which started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests, has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced nearly half the country’s pre-conflict population.

Germany has taken in more than 700,000 Syrian refugees since the start of the conflict.

In February, a German court convicted a former Syrian intelligence service agent for complicity in crimes against humanity in the first court case worldwide over state-sponsored torture by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Eyad al-Gharib, 44, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison over his role in helping to arrest at least 30 protesters in Duma in autumn 2011 and deliver them to the Al-Khatib detention center in Damascus where they were tortured.

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