Written By Luna Watfa
Translated to English by Diane Lockyer
9th September 2021 report follows on hearing of Anwar Raslan’s trial accused of perpetrating crimes against humanity in Syria. Two witnesses attended in one session.
On 9th September 2021, there were two witnesses who came to the court in one single session. The first represented the Federal Criminal Police who came on behalf of two witnesses, one of whom was initially interrogated by the criminal police and asked to remain anonymous.
When the first witness was informed of the order to participate in the trial after being interrogated by the Federal Police, he showed fear and tension at the idea of participating in public and asserted that his fear stemmed from the presence of his family members in Syria. He refused to participate in the trial which was possible as he resided outside Germany and no law obliged him to attend in this case. On the other hand, if the witness was a resident in Germany, he had no option and was obliged to appear.
The criminal police investigator confirmed to the court that the witness’s fear for his family stemmed from his belief that the « accused » Anwar Raslan’s defection was not authentic and that he was still cooperating with the Syrian regime.
As for the second witness, YH, he had gone on his own initiative to the criminal police to tell them that he had recognized Raslan’s picture when he saw it in the media which shocked him because he had never forgotten his features.
The criminal police asked YH about what had happened and he explained how he had been arrested in November, 2011. He had been summoned to an investigation in the Al-Khatib branch where he was arrested because of his participation in demonstrations. He was not blindfolded so he was able to identify those who were in the interrogation room, among whom was the accused, Raslan. He did not torture the witness himself but was present in the same room when two jailers tortured him brutally. One of them was called Abu Muhammad and the second Abdullah.
As for Raslan’s role during his interrogation, the witness explained to the criminal police he was sitting next to the investigator who had taken charge of the investigation concerning a video they presented to him for his participation in a demonstration. The investigator asked him in a violent and obscene verbal manner to identify the names of the demonstrators. When the witness denied any knowledge of the names of the demonstrators, the accused, Raslan, addressed him personally inquiring whether it was possible that he did not know any of them while he himself was participating in the demonstration.
The torture only ceased once he gave the name of one of the demonstrators.
The witness told the police he had also heard sounds of others being tortured in the branch. He described the poor general conditions and health situation in the prison and the interrogation sessions during the six days he spent in Al-Khatib branch. He noted he had lost consciousness several times following constant torture there. On the fourth day, he was asked to sign blank papers and then tortured once again.
On the fifth day, he was told he would be released.
However, on the sixth day, he was transferred to General Intelligence Directorate branch in Kafr Sousa even though he was in a very bad physical condition and suffering from severe pain resulting from the torture the jailers had inflicted on him.
The criminal police investigator was asked several questions by the parties to the case including whether there were difficulties when translating with the witness during the interrogation session or whether the witness was nervous and afraid. The investigator confirmed the witness was perfectly at ease and there were no difficulties in translation. The investigator was also asked if the witness had been asked how certain he was of having seen the accused and remembering his face. He replied he was absolutely certain because he had a very strong memory for faces.
YH was then asked by the prosecution how the witness had been able to know the names of the warders Abu Muhammad and Abdullah. The investigator replied they did not bother to ask the witness because they knew from their experience that the names of the wardens that were used were always fictitious.
Once the criminal police investigator’s testimony expired after an hour and a half, the panel of judges gave a half-hour break. After the break, a new Syrian witness entered through the witness’s door disguised with a beard, a wig, black sunglasses and a medical face mask that he wore all the time.