Representatives of victims of the 2013 chemical attacks in Syria have officially filed a criminal complaint in France aimed at top Syrian officials who they say are responsible for the use of chemical weapons on their own citizens.
Various investigations and actions have been ongoing in multiple countries for a while. Since Russia and China have used their vetoes to prevent the United Nations Security Council from bringing Syria to the International Criminal Court, countries have been using other legal methods in order to bring charges against Syrian government officials.
As reported by Reuters, “France’s intelligence services concluded in 2013 that a sarin gas attack on the Eastern Ghouta region just south east of Damascas that killed 1,400 people had been carried out by Syrian government forces.”
The New York Times also reported, “The United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons conducted inquiries after the 2013 attack in Syria, but the evidence they amassed has never led to any accountability and never identified perpetrators by name.”
The Syrian government has claimed that accusations that it used chemical weapons on its own people are false.
The complaint filed on Monday is reportedly centered on the most thorough collection of proof that material such as sarin gas was used in Syria. The evidence involves statements from people who either survived the attacks or defected, and it reportedly includes hundreds of pieces of evidence, like photographs and videos.
“We have compiled extensive evidence establishing exactly who is responsible for these attacks on Douma and Eastern Ghouta, whose horrific effects continue to impact survivors,” said Hadi al Khatib, founder and director of Syrian Archive, one of the NGOs that filed the complaint alongside Paris-based Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) and Open Society Foundation’s Justice Initiative.
As reported by The New York Times, the complaint is expected to be accepted by the judges and also asks for a criminal investigation to take place concerning President Bashar al-Assad, his brother, and multiple other advisers and military officials.
This is the most recent development in holding Syrian government officials responsible for potential war crimes. As The Daily Wire reported last week, a historic torture trial took place as a verdict was reached against a former member of Assad’s secret police.
The Daily Wire reported:
Eyad al-Gharib, 44, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison on Wednesday, the first verdict in the trial that began last year in conjunction with a more senior intelligence officer, Anwar Raslan, 57. Raslan was alleged to have been in charge of investigations at a branch of Syria’s General Intelligence Directorate and was Gharib’s former supervisor. He remains on trial. Both men had sought asylum in Germany.
The ruling was a historic event because it marks the first court case in the world over state-sponsored torture under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government. The Associated Press reports that “German prosecutors invoked the principle of universal jurisdiction for serious crimes to bring the case that involved victims and defendants who were in Germany.”
Head of SCM, Mazen Darwish, told Reuters, “This is important so that the victims have the possibility to see those responsible being brought to justice and held accountable.”
This week’s case includes almost a dozen people and reportedly could provide an opportunity for legal action to be taken against Assad.