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Germany charges Syria doctor with crimes against humanity

A joint plaintiff arrives at the courtroom prior to the start of a trial against two Syrian defendants accused of state-sponsored torture in Syria, on April 23, 2020 in Koblenz, western Germany. - Two alleged former Syrian intelligence officers go on trial, accused of crimes against humanity in the first court case worldwide over state-sponsored torture by Bashar al-Assad's regime. Prime suspect Anwar Raslan, an alleged former colonel in Syrian state security, stands accused of carrying out crimes against humanity while in charge of the Al-Khatib detention centre in Damascus between April 29, 2011 and September 7, 2012. Fellow defendant Eyad al-Gharib, 43, is accused of being an accomplice to crimes against humanity, having helped to arrest protesters and deliver them to Al-Khatib in the autumn of 2011. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes / POOL / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS LOHNES/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
A joint plaintiff arrives at the courtroom prior to the start of a trial against two Syrian defendants accused of state-sponsored torture in Syria, on April 23, 2020 in Koblenz, western Germany [THOMAS LOHNES/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Federal prosecutors in Germany charged a Syrian doctor living in the country with crimes against humanity yesterday. The allegations include torturing people inside military hospitals following their detention over taking part in anti-government demonstrations.

Alla Mousa has been living in Germany since 2015 and was practising medicine there before he was arrested last year on charges of 18 counts of torture at hospital No. 608 in Homs.

Prosecutors say Mousa allegedly killed at least one person and also tried to make people infertile. Charges against the suspect include murder, severe bodily harm, attempted bodily harm and dangerous bodily harm.

In at least two incidents, Mousa is accused of spraying alcohol on the genitals of a teenage boy and another man before setting fire to them with a cigarette lighter.

The man who died is thought to have been injected with an unknown lethal substance after being beaten with a baton.

READ: US sanctions Syrian regime prisons, officials

In recent years Germany has been at the forefront of prosecuting serious crimes in Syria under the principle of "universal jurisdiction" if the cases involve victims and defendants based in the country.

In a landmark case in February, a German court convicted Eyad Al-Gharib a former intelligence officer and member of Syria's secret police in what was said to be the first ever trial of a person linked to the government of President Bashar Al-Assad. Al-Gharib was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for aiding crimes against humanity, which included accompanying the transportation of some 20 detainees, despite knowing about the systematic torture that takes place in prisons.

According to Al Jazeera's Berlin correspondent, Dominic Kane, it is unclear at this stage how Mousa intends to plead and that it is "worth making the point that the individual concerned has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in this country".

"Nor indeed do we know when a potential date for his trial will come," he said. "We know now that the German government is very keen to pursue those who it believes are responsible for crimes against humanity committed in the Syrian civil war because they believe they can assert the principle of universal jurisdiction relating to war crimes."

READ: Germany to receive 500 Syria, Iraq refugees from Lebanon

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