Published: 20 February 2019 Author: Stefan Talmon DOI: 10.17176/20220106-144527-0
On 19 February 2019, hearings in a war crimes trial before the Third Senate of the Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart opened (case file no. 3 – 3 StE 5/18). 29-year old Syrian national Mohamad K. – who served in the rebel “Free Syrian Army” from January 2012 to January 2013 – was charged, together with others, with the torture of two prisoners who were involved in a pro-government militia in the Syrian province of Idlib, according to the German Code of Crimes against International Law (CCAIL). Section 8(1)(3) of the CCAIL provides:
“Whoever in connection with an international armed conflict or with an armed conflict not of an international character […] 3. treats a person who is to be protected under international humanitarian law cruelly or inhumanly by causing him or her substantial physical or mental harm or suffering, especially by torturing or mutilating that person […] shall be punished […] with imprisonment for not less than three years.”
The CCAIL applies to criminal offences against international law “even when the offence was committed abroad and bears no relation to Germany.”
Mohamad K. was accused of whipping the prisoners with a cable-like object while they were unclothed, inflicting considerable pain. Video clips of the crimes were published on YouTube in early 2013. The defendant came to Germany in September 2015 claiming refugee status.