The Syrian Anwar Raslan and Anwar al-Bunni met by chance in a department store in Berlin five years ago. The second recognizes the first as the one who, he says, threw him for five years in a dungeon of the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Anwar Raslan is according to the German court the highest rank of the two former members of the intelligence services of the syrian, which will take place on Thursday in Germany in the box of the defendants in the first trial in the world of the abuses attributed to the regime in Damascus.
The hearing before the regional court of Koblenz is “an important message” addressed to the heads of the syrians and their performers : “there will never be impunity for you, so think! “says the syrian lawyer Anwar al-Bunni in an interview with AFP in Berlin, where he is a refugee for the past five and a half years.
This sexagenarian, tireless activist for Human rights in his native country, harvesting today’s evidence and testimonies against the syrian for prosecution.
Several countries, among which Germany and France apply in effect the principle of “universal jurisdiction” that allows a State to prosecute the perpetrators of crimes against humanity regardless of their nationality and the place where they were committed.
Even if he can no longer practice his profession in Berlin, Anwar al-Bunni, respected figure among the 700 000 Syrian refugees in Germany, has convinced the victims to testify.
“It is not for revenge but to know the truth “, explained to AFP the German lawyer Patrick Kroker, who represents six Syrian civil parties, which should add two women.
These victims, and refugees in different european countries, “wants the world to learn what happened there,” adds the lawyer.
The former colonel Raslan has deserted from the syrian army in 2012 before arriving in Germany on July 26, 2014.
He is accused of having in may 2006 arrested Anwar al-Bunni in front of his home in Damascus, then to have him imprisoned for five years until his release in 2011 during the syrian uprising.
Ironically, it is in his exile in berlin that Anwar al-Bunni has recroisé the path of Anwar Raslan. Arrived at two-month intervals, they find that they are hosted in the same household of asylum-seekers in Berlin.
“I said that I knew this man but I did not recognize immediately “, he remembers pulling on an electronic cigarette.
A few months later, he again falls nose to nose with him in a big shop, but this time, he knows who the man is.
And when it begins in 2016, to work with lawyers to gather evidence, he learns that the German investigators are already looking closely at Anwar Raslan, finally arrested in Berlin in February 2019.
The German justice accuses today Anwar Raslan to be responsible for the death of 58 people and the torture of at least 4000 other from April 2011 to September 2012, in the detention centre of Al-Khatib in Damascus, for which he was responsible.
“Very brutal “
All those who will testify at the bar “have suffered physical harm, sometimes very brutal, and over a long period of time,” says Patrick Kroker.
Their crime? “For example participating in protests, have filmed a rally, or have collected medicine for people injured during demonstrations “.
Despite fleeing Europe, the victims remain terrified and often prefer to keep silent for fear of retaliation against relatives in Syria, or because they fear threats from potential agents syrians in Europe.
For Anwar al-Bunni, the fight is far from over. A thousand of the Syrians implicated in crimes committed by Damascus live in Europe today, without repercussions, according to him.
As to the prison Al-Khatib, “we continue to torture” even today, he says.
In Koblenz, the victims will speak out “also” in the name of those who will not be able to be there, “concludes Patrick Kroker,” either because they are still in jail, either because they are afraid or have not been able to arrive in Europe. Either because they are dead, victims of torture “.