Dienstag, 10. November 2020

German aid worker files a charge against the syrian regime for torture

 German aid worker Martin Lautwein accuses syrian intelligence forces of torture. The plaintiff is an aid worker who was based in Syria and Iraq. He claims to have been kidnapped along with an australian collegue from a basar in Damascus and held captive for 48 days in custody in 2018 where he claimes to have experienced torture, writes German newspaper WELT:

For the first time, a German citizen is taking legal action against Syrian officials for torture. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), which supported him, announced on Tuesday that Martin Lautwein had filed a complaint with the Attorney General after his imprisonment in a Syrian prison. Lautwein was imprisoned in a military prison in Damascus for seven weeks in 2018. Initially, the Südwestrundfunk, the Westdeutsche Rundfunk and the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" reported on the case.

Lautwein worked in Iraq and Syria for an aid organization that set up medical infrastructure. According to the report, he was arrested along with an Australian colleague at a bazaar in Syria. He was tortured in prison, he told the media. During interrogation he was accused of working for a foreign secret service, which he denies. He also saw other inmates being mistreated and killed. "It's about breaking people by all means," he said.

The two colleagues were released after 48 days. According to the report, the Czech Republic negotiated the release - the country was the only EU country still to have an embassy in Syria. With the help of ECCHR, Lautwein joined a complaint from 13 Syrians that was originally filed in March 2017. It is directed against high-ranking officials in Syrian military intelligence.

"Lautwein's statement is important for dealing with the crimes in Syria," said Patrick Kroker, head of the Syria team at ECCHR. "So far, witnesses have mainly been able to report acts up to 2015, but his case proves that the same conditions prevailed in 2018 - it is probably still the case today." In Koblenz, the world's first trial against Syrians responsible for state torture has been running since April.