The trial against Ahmad A. has begun before the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court in Hamburg. The 47-year-old is accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The former militia leader lived undisturbed in Germany for years until an encounter in a Bremen advice center was his downfall.

He lived secretly and undisturbed in Germany for seven years: the suspected Syrian war criminal Ahmad H. Now the 47-year-old is being tried in Hamburg. The proceedings before the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court begin on Friday.

Ahmad H. was arrested in Bremen in August last year. He had apparently lived an inconspicuous life there since 2016. Until fellow countrymen recognized him in a Caritas advice center.

“I met Ahmad H. in Bremen at Caritas in 2016,” reports Syrian human rights activist Marwan Al Esh to MOPO. The 68-year-old spent years in dictator Assad’s prisons. He was tortured and had his teeth knocked out. The German government campaigned for his release. He came to Germany in 2016.

Marwan Al Esh knows how the militias work in Syria. Ahmad H. soon had a hunch. He knew pictures of the henchman and reported his suspicions to the police in Bremen. Soon the handcuffs clicked.

Now the trial begins before the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court (OLG). The public prosecutor’s office accuses Ahmad H. of having committed crimes against humanity and war crimes. He is said to have been the local leader of a pro-regime militia in Syria between 2012 and 2015, which was tasked with specifically intimidating the population on behalf of the government in order to suppress the protest movement at the time.

This included controlling checkpoints in the At-Tadamon district of Damascus. According to the Federal Prosecutor General’s indictment, the “Shabiha militia” under the leadership of Ahmad H. arbitrarily arrested numerous people in order to enslave or torture them. The now 47-year-old is said to have used violence himself.

Evidence suggests that in a 2013 incident, Ahmad H. punched a man arrested by the militia in the face and directed his militiamen to brutally beat the prisoner with plastic pipes. In the fall of 2014, he is said to have severely mistreated another civilian by beating him, along with other militia members and members of the Syrian Military Intelligence Service, grabbing him by the hair and shoving his head on the sidewalk. He then allegedly tied up the victim before the militia took him away. Where is unclear.

What is certain, however, is that the department of the Syrian secret service with which Ahmad H. was in contact carried out mass executions, for example killing at least 47 civilians on April 16 and October 16, 2013. Did Ahmad H. know about it? This should be clarified in the process, among other things.

According to a court spokesman, the defendant is said to have arrested civilians at various checkpoints on a total of nine occasions in December 2012 and summer 2014 and forced them to transport sandbags to the front. There, the prisoners, who had to work without food or water, repeatedly came under fire and were sometimes mistreated.

According to witness statements, the defendant allegedly took cash and cell phones from the victims in order to keep the loot for himself. In addition, Ahmad H. is said to have taken part in looting and, in individual cases, to have initiated it.

The proceedings are taking place in Hamburg because the state of Bremen has not set up its own state security senate. As a court spokesman announced, there is an international treaty with Bremen, according to which the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court in Hamburg is responsible for state protection proceedings from the Weser metropolis. There are similar regulations with Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Marwan Al Esh hopes that Ahmad H. will receive his just punishment. He would also testify in court as a witness about the atrocities.

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The original of this article “Assad’s torturer in court in Hamburg – he is accused of heinous crimes” comes from Mopo.