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Arrests in Germany and Sweden for war crimes against humanity in #Yarmouk #Syria

In a case that the Center has worked on for several years and in implementation of the arrest orders issued by the investigating judge before the Federal Court of Justice in Germany on June 6, 2024. Jihad A., Mazhar C., Samir S., and Mahmoud A. were arrested in Berlin on Wednesday, July 3. In Frankenthal (Platinate) and Wael S. Near Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. The residence of another suspect in Essen, who has not yet been arrested, was searched. At the same time, three suspects were arrested in Sweden: M.S – F.N and L. T

Basically, the arrest warrants indicate the following facts:

Since around the end of April 2011and onwards, the Syrian regime has resorted to brutal force against anyone criticising it. Its aim has always been to suppress protest movements at an early stage and intimidate the population and as a result, opponents across the country were arrested, detained, tortured and, in many cases, killed.

The Free Palestine Movement in Yarmouk.

Jihad A., Mahmoud A., Samir S. and Wael S. were affiliated with the Free Palestine Movement (FPM) armed militia present in Syria since around spring 2011. The militia had in fact taken control of Yarmouk, an area in Damascus which was formerly a Palestinian refugee camp inhabited mostly by Palestinians, on behalf of the Syrian regime. Consequently, the Syrian regime had completely encircled Yarmouk in July 2013 which resulted in incredible suffering from severe shortages of food, water and medical supplies.

During this time, the Free Palestine Movement cooperated with the Syrian Military Intelligence Service, in particular with Branches 227 and 235. Mazhar J. was in fact a member of Branch 235, the so-called Palestine Branch.

All of the suspects named had participated in the violent crackdown on the peaceful anti-government protest in Yarmouk. on July 13, 2012. They and other officers had specifically targeted and shot civilian protesters six of whom died of their wounds in the course of time while other victims were partially or seriously injured.

Moreover, Mahmoud A., Mazhar J., Samir S., and Wael S. were recognised as having physically abused civilians from Yarmouk severely and repeatedly. The events took place between mid-2012 and 2014, among other incidents, at checkpoints set up by the movement where other regime loyalists and militias were stationed at the entrances or exits of the area. The victims were punched, beaten with rifle butts on their heads as well as brutal series of  victims being kicked.

Besides, Mahmoud A. handed over one of the people they had arrested to the Military Intelligence Service for imprisonment and torture. He also threatened to rape a woman at a checkpoint – and even forced her to pay a sum with her family’s jewellery for her release with her young son. Mazhar J. also ordered the arrest of a man who he violently abused as a victim in Branch 235 prison.

On April 16, 2013, members of Branch 227 killed at least 41 civilians in a mass demonstration in the Damascus neighborhood of Tadamun. Three of the victims had previously been arrested at the Yarmouk checkpoint and handed over to Branch 227 by Mahmoud A. and others.

Three other individuals accused of participating in the crackdown on protests in Yarmouk on 13 July 2012 were arrested in Sweden at the same time. The Swedish Public Prosecutor’s Office is leading the proceedings against these individuals.

Details from the Swedish Public Prosecution’s statement:

Three people were arrested today in Sweden on suspicion of committing crimes against international law, namely serious crimes, in Syria in 2012. Meanwhile, several people were also arrested in Germany.

The arrests were made after cooperation between Swedish and German prosecutors and the police with support from EU law enforcement and criminal justice cooperation authorities, Europol and Eurojust. In addition, several other European countries provided assistance in the investigation.