07:04, October 29 267 0 theguardian.com

2019-10-29 07:04:09
Germany charges two Syrians with crimes against humanity

Germany has charged two alleged former Syrian secret service officers with crimes against humanity, federal prosecutors have announced.

The two men were arrested in the capital, Berlin, and the southern state of Baden-Württemberg in February, in a coordinated operation by German and French police.

One of the men, named as Anwar R, has been charged with 59 counts of murder, as well as rape and sexual assault. The second, Eyad A, has been charged with aiding and abetting a crime against humanity, it was announced on Tuesday.

Both men entered Germany as asylum seekers, in July 2014 and August 2018 respectively.

German authorities have approached the cases under the legal principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows the prosecution of crimes in one country even if they happened elsewhere.

Substantial evidence against the men was gathered as a result of the exhibition of so-called Caesar photographs in the UN headquarters in New York in March 2015, which depicted the corpses of thousands of torture victims alongside personal testimonies. The photographs were taken by a former member of the Syrian military police calling himself Caesar, who fled Syria with the images in 2013.