The principle on which these processes are based is that of universal jurisdiction, i.e. the idea that some crimes are so serious that they have to be judged regardless of the nationality of the parties concerned and the place where they were committed. That’s why in this case the Syrian accused, suspected of committing human rights violations in Syria against Syrians, are tried in Germany.
– Also read: What is universal jurisdiction
Alaa Mousa is suspected of torturing an inmate in the military prison of Homs, western Syria, where he worked as a doctor. According to the accusation, Mousa was called following an attack of convulsions by the prisoner, who had already suffered torture; instead of treating him, Mousa would have beaten him with a plastic tube. A similar episode would repeat itself the next day. The prisoner died shortly after meeting Mousa.
For some time the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office has been dealing with complaints and reports about Syrian citizens accused of committing crimes against humanity and repeated violations of human rights during the war in Syria: several complaints came from other Syrians who arrived in Germany during the war, victims of the violence, or family members of people subjected to torture. Between 2015 and 2017, many Syrians arrived in Germany, also thanks to the policies adopted by Chancellor Angela Merkel, more welcoming than in other European countries.
Anwar Al Bunni, a human rights lawyer who arrived in Germany from Syria in 2014, is collaborating on the investigations by collecting testimonies from migrants. Some non-governmental organizations are also engaged in the investigation, in particular Human Rights Watch, who in 2015 published photos provided by a former photographer of the Syrian regime who was later a deserter, known by the nickname Ceasar, which showed that torture was practiced systematically in the military prisons of the country.