Syrian investigators have enough proof to convict Assad of war crimes: UN's Del Ponte

Syrian investigators have enough proof to convict Assad of war crimes: UN's Del Ponte
Syrian investigators have gathered enough evidence to convict Bashar al-Assad for war crimes, a leading UN official has said.
2 min read
13 August, 2017
Del Ponte has said she will step down from the UN commission [AFP]




Investigators have collected enough evidence to prosecute Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for war crimes, leading UN official Carla del Ponte said on Sunday.

Members of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria have been gathering information on major actors in the war.

Bashar al-Assad is widely viewed as being the main instigator and responsible for the vast majority of deaths in the conflict.

Asked if the team were now at a stage where they can convict Assad of war crimes, del Ponte said they were.

"Yes, I am convinced that is the case. That is why the situation is so frustrating. The preparatory work has been done. Despite that, there is no prosecutor and no court," she told SonntagsZeitung according to Reuters.

Del Ponte has voiced frustration at the UN's inability to end the war and does not believe it is likely that Syrian war criminals will ever be brought to the dock.

This month she told the Swiss newspaper she would quit the commission due to the UN's inability to set up a tribunal based on investigators' findings.

She blamed the UN Security Council for the impasse, with permanent members Russia and China using their vetoes to block international action against the Syrian regime.

Del Ponte did anger some Syrian activists by saying "everyone is bad" in the conflict and equating rebels with "terrorists" - a narrative employed by the Assad regime.

More than half a million Syrians are believed to have been killed in the war, which began in 2011 when the regime brutally suppressed popular anti-government protests.

Since then, the regime has employed bombings, torture, mass killings, and sieges to suppress the revolt against Assad, which has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths. 

The rebels too have been accused of indiscriminate shelling and a crippling siege on two Shia villages in Idlib province.

Del Ponte has said that she would like to see Assad and other war criminals brought to justice at the Hague.

"For six years, the commission has investigated. Now a prosecutor should continue our work and bring the war criminals before a special court. But that is exactly what Russia is blocking with its veto in the UN Security Council," he said.