France court sentences high-ranking Syria officials for crimes against humanity and war crimes News
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France court sentences high-ranking Syria officials for crimes against humanity and war crimes

Paris Criminal Court sentenced Friday in absentia three high-ranking Syrian officials to life for complicity in crimes against humanity and war crimes, reported the International Federation for Human Rights. The defendants were Ali Mamlouk, advisor to President Bashar Al-Assad and former head of the National Security Bureau, Jamil Hassan, former head of the Syrian Air Force intelligence service and Abdel Salam Mahmoud, former head of investigations of the Syrian Air Force Intelligence in Mezzeh military airport in Damascus.

The trial followed a seven-year investigation carried out by the war crimes unit at Paris Judicial Court, which in March decided to indict the three officials. In 2013, father and son Mazzen and Patrick Dabbagh were arbitrarily arrested by the Syrian authorities and taken to the Mezzeh military airport detention center. After five years of futile attempts to learn about their fates, the family received two death certificates stating their deaths in 2014 and 2017.

The petition was supported by the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, which commended in a joint statement this May the efforts of the French instruction judges in another process investigating alleged chemical attacks on civilians in Douma and Eastern Ghouta in August 2013. Commenting on the Friday decision, the organization dedicated the victory to “all victims of torture and enforced disappearance and their families.”

The decision has critical importance in France, as it sets a significant precedent for sentencing high-ranking Syrian officials during the Al-Assad regime. In January 2022, Germany’s Koblenz Higher Regional Court convicted a senior Syrian official to life for crimes against humanity during the same period. In February 2021, that same court sentenced another official to four and a half years in prison for aiding and abetting 30 cases of crimes against humanity.