Germany issues arrest warrant for leading Syrian regime 'torture official'

Germany issues arrest warrant for leading Syrian regime 'torture official'
Germany has filed an arrest warrant for Jamil Hassan, head of the Syrian regime's notorious Air Force Intelligence agency, which is believed to be responsible for the murder of thousands.
3 min read
08 June, 2018
Hassan is wanted for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity [Enab Baladi]
Germany has issued an arrest warrant for the head of Syria's notorious Air Force Intelligence Directorate, Jamil Hassan, who is wanted by Berlin for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Hassan - a key aide of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad - is oversees the regime's most feared intelligence agency, which is believed to be responsible for the torture and murder of tens of thousands of civilians.

Germany's chief federal prosecutor, Peter Frank, issued an arrest warrant against Hassan on Friday, due to the intelligence chief's alleged role in the systematic rape, torture and murder of thousands of Syrians, according to Der Spiegel.

Lawyer and activist Anwar al-Bunni helped Frank compile the criminal complaint, using interviews with Syrians, some who now live in Germany.

Also used by the prosecution team were the thousands of chilling images smuggled out of Syria by a former photographer at a regime torture centre, known as "Caesar".

After a long campaign compiling evidence of the Syrian regime's brutality, Bunni said the arrest warrant against Hassan is just the start of prosecutions of key Assad figures.

Read also: Syria's prisoners - Absent but never forgotten

"This is a victory for justice. It is a victory for the German justice system," said Bunni.

"This is also a victory for Syrians, whose faith in justice will be restored. We can only hope that the next arrest warrant is for al-Assad."

Hassan has been head of the Air Force Intelligence Directorate since 2009, the most feared arm of the regime's brutal apparatus of control.

He is a close aide to Bashar al-Assad, as well as his father Hafez who died in 2000.

Tens of thousands of Syrians are believed to have died in the regime's dungeons from torture, starvation, disease and summary executions.

Many of those were peaceful protesters and activists who were jailed at the start of the 2011 uprising, and many other innocents completely unconnected to the protests. 

Torture, rape and murder have been at the heart of the Syrian regime's hold over the country.

More than half a million people have been died since the start of the 2011 uprising - the vast majority civilians killed from regime bombing and shelling.

During an interview with Independent columnist Robert Fisk, Hassan said the regime should have been more brutal in 2011 and used the same tactics it applied during the 1982 Hama Massacre, when between 20,000 and 30,000 Syrians were murdered.

German officials said they did not expect to apprehend Hassan soon but eventually he will be behind bars.

"We will not forget about this. We want to get this man," an official told Der Spiegel.