Syrian doctor charged with crimes against humanity

Syrian doctor charged with crimes against humanity
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A Syrian doctor has been charged with crimes against humanity for allegedly torturing people in military hospitals, leading to the death of one individual.

Alla Mousa is accused of torturing 18 people at military hospitals in Homs and Damascus, two cities in Syria, according to a statement from the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Karlsruhe, Germany, where the doctor moved in 2015 to practice medicine. Mousa was arrested in June 2020.

German prosecutors allege Mousa killed one individual, caused serious physical and mental harm in four of the cases and attempted to make others infertile. He was charged with murder, serious bodily harm, attempted serious bodily harm and dangerous bodily harm.

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Specifically, prosecutors claim that Mousa poured alcohol on the genitals of a 14- or 15-year-old boy and then lit the area on fire in the emergency room of a military hospital in Homs. He was also accused of torturing at least nine other prisoners at the Homs hospital by punching them in the face, abdomen or genitals.

In one episode, Mousa allegedly hit a recently arrested patient in the face with a plastic tube, then allegedly kicked him in the head. The individual, who was experiencing an epileptic seizure, reportedly died a few days later after allegedly being administered a tablet by Mousa. His cause of death, however, was never clearly identified, according to prosecutors.

The doctor is also accused of hanging people from the ceiling by their hands and beating them with a plastic stick, dousing someone's hand with flammable liquids and lighting it on fire, and kicking prisoners.

The dates of the incidents outlined by prosecutors run from the summer of 2011 through August 2012. The doctor moved to Germany several years later.

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office noted that protesters were sometimes arrested, imprisoned and tortured amid the demonstrations against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in 2011. Citizens who were thought to be members of the opposition were sent to detention centers where they were reportedly tortured, sometimes leading to death.

The head of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights praised the charges being brought against Mousa, The Associated Press reported.

“Grave crimes against Syria’s civil society are not only taking place in the detention centers of the intelligence services: Syria’s torture and extermination system is complex and only exists thanks to the support of a wide variety of actors,” Wolfgang Kaleck said in a statement, according to the AP. “With the trial [of Mousa], the role of military hospitals and medical staff in this system could be addressed for the very first time.”