Spain’s top court on March 27 agreed to investigate claims by a Spanish woman who alleges her brother was tortured and murdered by Bashar al-Assad’s security forces. According to the woman, who is identified only as AH for security reasons, her brother was executed in 2013 at a detention facility in Damascus. Spanish High Court Judge Eloy Velasco has asked Syrian authorities to appoint legal representation in Spain for the nine security officers implicated in the torture and murder of the litigtant’s brother. The case is the first criminal complaint accepted against President al-Assad’s security forces by a European court. The lawyers for AH contend that Spanish courts have jurisdiction over the complaint due to the woman’s status as a Spanish citizen. Velasco determined that the complaint has standing in Spain’s courts under international norms that consider family members of those who have “disappeared” as a result of international crimes to be equally considered victims of those crimes.
From Jurist, March 27. Used with permission.
Note: International law advocacy group Guernica37 writes that this ruling “will specifically allow the [Spanish] Courts to investigate the torture and execution of thousands of civilians in the illegal detention facilities established” by the regime across Syria.
The Assad regime has now been widely accused of genocide. A case is now being prepared to bring Assad before the International Criminal Court—although Russian intransigence is an obvious obstacle, while Turkey”s call to bring Assad to The Hauge is obviously hypocritical. The UN General Assembly late last year adopted a resolution calling for establishment of an independent panel to investigate war crimes in Syria.