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Germany and Sweden arrest 8 on suspicion of committing war crimes in Syria

A police officer stands in front of a door with a submachine gun in Althengstett, 4 June 2024
A police officer stands in front of a door with a submachine gun in Althengstett, 4 June 2024 Copyright Silas Stein/dpa via AP, File
Copyright Silas Stein/dpa via AP, File
By Euronews with AP
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The atrocities allegedly took place at a Palestinian refugee camp cordoned off by the Assad regime.


A total of eight people have been arrested in Germany and Sweden on suspicion of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in Syria in 2012-2014, authorities in the two countries said on Wednesday.

In a coordinated effort that also involved the European Union's judicial cooperation agency Eurojust, the EU police agency Europol, and several other unnamed European countries, five of the suspects were arrested in Germany and three in Sweden.

The German federal prosecutor said that those arrested in Germany were "strongly suspected of killing and attempting to kill civilians." Some of those arrested also were suspected of torture.

The suspects, identified as stateless Syrian Palestinians Jihad A, Mahmoud A, Sameer S, and Wael S, along with Syrian national Mazhar J, were caught in various locations across Germany, including Berlin, Frankenthal in Rhineland-Palatinate and Boizenburg in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

The five have been affiliated with the Free Palestine Movement, an armed militia in Syria, since early 2011.

At the time when the crimes allegedly occurred, the militia exercised control over Damascus' mostly Palestinian district of al-Yarmouk on behalf of the Syrian regime, Germany's federal prosecutor said.

The Syrian regime cordoned off the area completely in July 2013, resulting in a shortage of food, water, and medical supplies.

Violence and abuse

Among other crimes, all suspects allegedly participated in the violent crackdown of a peaceful anti-government protest in al-Yarmouk on 13 July 2012, specifically targeting civilian protesters by shooting at them. Six individuals died while others were seriously injured, the German statement said.

Germany's federal prosecutor alleged that some of them also abused civilians from al-Yarmouk severely and repeatedly. The events occurred between mid-2012 and 2014.

In one case, an individual was handed over to the Syrian Military Intelligence Service, which reportedly incarcerated and tortured him. In another case, a woman was allegedly forced to pay with her family jewels for the release of her minor son and was threatened with rape.

German prosecutors did not give the suspects' last names in line with privacy rules.

The group was brought before an investigating judge at the Federal Court of Justice to read out their arrest warrants and decide on pre-trial detention. The arraignment was set for Wednesday and Thursday, according to the prosecutor's statement.

In Sweden, the Prosecution Authority gave no details regarding those arrested. However, it said it must be decided before noon Saturday whether they should be detained or released.

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