[JURIST] Hearings began in Spain on Monday regarding potential war crimes committed by President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria [BBC backgrounder]. The case is a result [AP report] of a Spanish national's brother being abducted and tortured in Damascus before being executed in 2013. The family claims that the brother was not part of an opposition group and just a truck driver making a delivery. The family was able to identify the body after a forensic photographer smuggled the photos out of Syria. The photographer may testify in the case next month. The investigation involved nine of Assad's closest aides but not Assad himself due to his immunity. Spain is the first to hold a criminal investigation of potential war crimes into Syria, as Russia has blocked referral of the Assad regime to the International Criminal Court.
The war in Syria [JURIST backgrounder] continues to have a significant impact, particularly in the region of Aleppo. On Wednesday, The UN Security Council met for emergency talks regarding an alleged chemical attack in Syria that killed numerous civilians [JURIST report]. In February, according to Human Rights Watch, the Syrian government carried out [JURIST report] "coordinated chemical attacks" on rebel-controlled portions of Aleppo.