Become part of the world’s biggest dialogue experiment.

Find out how you can get involved
  1. Home
  2. Europe
  3. Germany

In the news: Landmark Syria torture trial begins in Germany

Previous prosecutions related to Syria’s war have focused on low-level fighters. That changed on Thursday.


Two former Syrian security officers appeared in a German court on Thursday to face charges of crimes against humanity in a trial believed to be the first to attempt to bring accountability for torture committed during Syria’s nine-year war.

German prosecutors have charged Anwar Raslan and Eyad al-Gharib using the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows states to try cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide even if they took place outside the country where the case takes place.

Read more → European cases to test the reach of prosecuting Syria war crimes

Prosecutors allege that Raslan, a former colonel in the security services of President Bashar al-Assad who defected to the opposition in 2013, ran a prison where torture, rape, murder, and sexual assault were commonplace. Al-Gharib is accused of arresting protesters and bringing them to the detention centre. 

Raslan’s status as a relatively high-ranking member in al-Assad’s state apparatus makes the trial a key landmark for groups that have been working to document and prosecute atrocities in Syria’s war, as until now most trials have focused on low-level fighters.

The trial is expected to take months, possibly even years.

– Annie Slemrod

Share this article

Hundreds of thousands of readers trust The New Humanitarian each month for quality journalism that contributes to more effective, accountable, and inclusive ways to improve the lives of people affected by crises.

Our award-winning stories inform policymakers and humanitarians, demand accountability and transparency from those meant to help people in need, and provide a platform for conversation and discussion with and among affected and marginalised people.

We’re able to continue doing this thanks to the support of our donors and readers like you who believe in the power of independent journalism. These contributions help keep our journalism free and accessible to all.

Show your support as we build the future of news media by becoming a member of The New Humanitarian. 

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.