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.
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."