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On 10/20/2020 at 6:31 PM, Stuart Galbraith said:

I had to laugh at this...

 

Another photo of unknown people in unknown place…. Could you find a photo of a guy with Nazi insignia side by side with Putin please, in ranks of regular Army unit?

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On 10/20/2020 at 7:43 PM, R011 said:

I thought it was just Ukrainians and Baltic's  who wore SS themed gear?

Russia is not some kind of paradise – we got all kinds of social illnesses here as well as in other places, like crime, maniacs, “sexual minorities”, corruption and, among others, Nazis of different shades. As Ukraine is part of Russia, we can’t expect something that exist in Ukraine to be completely absent on another side of artificial border line. But real difference is Russian Nazis usually end up badly (like in this case https://meduza.io/en/news/2020/09/16/russian-nationalist-tesak-found-dead-in-prison-cell-after-apparent-suicide ) while in Ukraine they are promoted to top law enforcement seats, and Prime Minister visit their gatherings with greetings and thanks https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/10/30/ukra-o30.html

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The Assad Files

German Prosecutors Are Collecting Evidence on Chemical Weapons Attacks in Syria

German prosecutors are currently collecting witness testimonies, documents and videos incriminating Syria in what are believed to be crimes against humanity. The evidence against the Assad regime compiled by groups that have filed a criminal complaint in Germany is overwhelming.

By Christoph Reuter, Fidelius Schmid und Wolf Wiedmann-Schmidt

27.11.2020, 15.45 Uhr

Salim Namour’s colleagues at the underground hospital in East Ghouta saw him as a rock of stability. The veteran doctor even called himself that: Sakhr, the rock. But on Aug. 21, 2013, Namour, too, reached his limits. "It was like Judgment Day,” the doctor recalls.

 

Overnight, Volcano and M14 rockets rained down on rebel-held suburbs near Damascus, striking residential buildings. Impacts were also reported near mosques and at a primary school.

Namour recalls hearing over the radio that all doctors should head to the hospital immediately. Upon arrival, he saw the injured everywhere, many with no signs of any external wounds. People were struggling to breathe and were having seizures. Saliva oozed from their mouths. "The dying, the dead, it was horrible,” says Namour. Everything seemed to point to a poison gas attack.

Inside the cave, as the doctors called their underground hospital, they tore the clothes off the injured and rinsed them in water. They gave them shots of atropine as an antidote and administered oxygen. Namour and his colleagues fought to save lives until the next day at noon. But in many cases, they lost the battle.

More than 1,000 men, women and children died in the chemical weapons attack seven years ago. Experts with the United Nations ultimately determined that the poison gas sarin had been used, a chemical warfare agent that has been outlawed internationally. Namour provided the inspectors with samples of blood, clothes and hair from his patients. The doctor now lives in exile in Europe, but his precise location is not to be made public.

The sarin attack in Ghouta was the deadliest use of chemical weapons seen in the Syrian civil war. The West had implored dictator Bashar Assad not to use chemical agents, and in 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama even declared that the use of chemical weapons was a "red line” that could not be crossed.

Ultimately, though, there was no response whatsoever. To this day, no one has had to answer for the crime. Nor for the dozens of additional instances in which the Assad regime is believed to have used poison gas against his own population.

A group of Syrian human rights activists and European international criminal law experts are seeking to change that. The group has conducted several years of research and has compiled well over 1,000 pages of evidence pertaining to the sarin attack in Ghouta in August 2013 and to another attack with the same nerve agent in Khan Sheikoun in April 2017.

In October, they filed a criminal complaint with the Federal Public Prosecutor General in Germany. "We are calling on the prosecutor to investigate the perpetrators of these horrific crimes,” says London-based international criminal law expert Steve Kostas of the Open Society Justice Initiative, which filed the criminal complaint. The human rights organization Syrian Archive in Berlin and the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression in Paris are also involved.

Overwhelming Evidence

It’s no coincidence that they chose Germany as the country in which to file the complaint. In recent years, Germany has proven that it is willing to bring war crimes and crimes against humanity to trial – regardless of where they are committed. Perpetrators from Rwanda, slave owners with the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS) and suspected torturers from Syria have already been dragged into court by the Federal Prosecutor's Office.

The investigators also haven't shied away from going after high-ranking officers in Assad’s apparatus. In 2018, German Chief Federal Prosecutor Peter Frank issued an arrest warrant for Jamil Hassan, the since deposed head of Syria’s Air Force Intelligence, although it is unclear whether the Syrian general is still alive today. 

In a joint reporting project with German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, DER SPIEGEL was able to review extensive documentation, view videos and speak with witnesses and survivors of the gas attack in Ghouta. The evidence against the Assad regime is overwhelming.

The non-governmental organizations involved in the case accuse 10 men inside the Syrian power apparatus of responsibility for the 2013 sarin attack. They include military figures like 60-year-old Brigadier General Ghassan Abbas, who at the time headed Branch 450 at the Scientific Studies and Research Center.

Intelligence agencies believe the Syrian chemical weapons program is concealed behind that harmless-sounding name. Abbas allegedly supervised the loading of the missiles with chemical weapons before the attack on Ghouta, and the European Union also considers him to be one of the organizers of the attack.

The NGOs believe it a virtual certainty that responsibility for the crimes extends all the way up to the president and his immediate circle. They also managed to track down a Syrian officer who is said to have turned his back on the regime. The officer claims that Assad’s younger brother Maher gave the order for the chemical weapons attack. His claim could not be independently corroborated, and the name of the defector has been kept secret. However, DER SPIEGEL obtained evidence seven years ago from a United Nations worker of Maher’s possible involvement in the massacre. The regime denies any guilt to this day.

In the coming days, the NGOs are planning to submit extensive additional evidence relating to the sarin attacks of 2013 and 2017 to federal prosecutors in Germany.

[...]

https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/german-prosecutors-are-collecting-evidence-on-chemical-weapons-attacks-in-syria-a-74fec59c-9461-42f6-a6a4-dc89e1a08692

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What would a successful persecution result in other than additional sanctions against the country or specific individuals held responsible? What is the marginal value of these with respect to influencing events in Syria given the ineffectual EU sanctions already in place? Is this an effective form of foreign policy or just a waste of tax payers' money simply to hold on to the delusional idea that one has any relevance to this conflict?

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1 hour ago, Daan said:

What would a successful persecution result in other than additional sanctions against the country or specific individuals held responsible? What is the marginal value of these with respect to influencing events in Syria given the ineffectual EU sanctions already in place? Is this an effective form of foreign policy or just a waste of tax payers' money simply to hold on to the delusional idea that one has any relevance to this conflict?

I would say that "German foreign" policy is the new shortest joke, replacing "Albanian tourist" from the 90s.

Germany demands sanctions where it suits their interests and does not agree with them when it hurts the pocket.

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As the article notes, it's not a political decision, but a suit brought by three NGOs under the principle of universal jurisdiction for international crimes, enacted in German domestic law in 2002 pursuant to the Rome Statute which established the International Criminal Court that year. It has not always been a well-applied principle, used by activists to make Spanish prosecutors go after Pinochet and Belgian ones after Netanyahu, not to speak of the various cases of extraterritorial jurisdiction assumed by US courts and government. The war crimes unit of the German federal prosecutor general's office is currently evaluating the charges as to whether an indictment should be made. There is some, but not extensive precedent, and in the one case that ended in a conviction the defendants actually resided in Germany. Here's another report with more detail. 

Quote

How Germany could indict Syria's Assad for war crimes

27.11.2020

German federal prosecutors are investigating evidence of chemical warfare in Syria. DW and Der Spiegel gained exclusive access to witnesses and documents that form part of the landmark inquiry.

[...] 

Throughout history, there have been moments where countries have collectively taken steps to enact justice against perpetrators of mass atrocities, such as the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials in the wake of World War II.

The underlying concept of such nation-driven tribunals is that individuals who form part of a command structure can be held to account for atrocities, even if they did not personally commit them.

Since war crimes are often committed in a system of armed forces, international law recognizes that command hierarchies enable such violations, Robert Heinsch, director of the Kalshoven-Gieskes Forum on International Humanitarian Law at Leiden University, tells DW.

"People who have given orders to normal soldiers or whoever is in charge of launching the attacks can be indicted because of this act of ordering — or even if the person didn't order it themselves but they were aware or should have been aware of these attacks," says Heinsch.

"Because of their function as a military commander, they can be held responsible — and that's very important. This is also incorporated into the German code of crimes against international law, because you would otherwise not be able to hold these people responsible."

In Germany, the law establishing universal jurisdiction has only been used once to convict a perpetrator. In 2015, German judges found Rwandan Hutu rebel leader Ignace Murwanashyaka and his aide guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Murwanashyaka's conviction was overturned three years later and he died while awaiting retrial.

The only other trial that has employed universal jurisdiction to prosecute perpetrators is the case in Koblenz targeting senior Syrian regime figures for alleged torture.

'Maybe it's only the beginning'

In his capacity as Syria's president, Assad heads Syria's armed forces. On several occasions, he has made clear that as commander-in-chief, ultimate authority lies within his office, telling Chinese state broadcaster CCTV in September 2013 that he is "the lead decision-maker in moving and leading the armed forces in Syria."

But other factors are also crucial for a viable prosecution.

Even if federal prosecutors decide to cross that threshold and indict the highest regime figures allegedly involved in the decision-making process, other issues could derail the case, including sovereign immunity, under which an acting head of state is traditionally protected from prosecution.

For those pursuing justice against Syria's top regime figures, the endeavor is shy of a Sisyphean task. But that has yet to dissuade them.

"We know this process will take 10, 20, maybe even 30 years. So we must also try to prepare ourselves for a long term strategy. We know from all of our experiences that this is not something that will be finished within a day," says Mazen Darwish, president of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression.

"Maybe it's only the beginning."

Since 2011, Germany's war crimes unit has tasked more than a dozen prosecutors with a structural investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.

Germany is now home to an estimated 600,000 Syrians, the vast majority of whom fled their country to escape the brutal conflict. Throughout their asylum applications, they are frequently questioned about their part in atrocities, whether as victims or perpetrators.

But Germany isn't the only jurisdiction the plaintiffs plan to litigate against the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria. The consortium of NGOs plans to file criminal complaints in other European jurisdictions by next year.

"We hope that we can galvanize universal jurisdiction prosecutors to investigate these attacks and to hear evidence that we've presented so that they can build criminal investigation files that will support prosecutions in the future," says Open Society's Steve Kostas.

[...] 

https://www.dw.com/en/how-germany-could-indict-syrias-assad-for-war-crimes/a-55736276

As to sanctions, like in other countries there is certainly a national bias of interest, but not extraordinarily so. The measures against Russia over Ukraine were installed and are maintained with crucial German support despite farspread domestic opposition by industry, East German state minister presidents of different parties, and both the left and right political fringe over the economic impact, for example. 

Edited by BansheeOne
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