A former Syrian intelligence service agent has been sentenced to jail for his contributions to the state-sponsored torture by the President Bashar al-Assad-led government.
Eyad al-Gharib, 44, was sentenced to four years and six months in jail for assisting in committing crimes against humanity and helped to arrest protesters and deliver them to a detention in Damascus in autumn 2011.
In her judgment, judge Anne Kerber said, “The accused is sentenced to four years and six months for aiding and abetting a crime against humanity in the form of torture and deprivation of liberty.”
Gharib deliberately avoided the camera by keeping his face away, wearing a medical mask and folding his arms as the verdict was read out.
Almost 10 years since the Arab Spring reached Syria on March 15, 2011, the judgement is the first in the world related to the brutal repression of protesters by the regime in Damascus.
Gharib, a former low-ranking member of the intelligence service, is accused of helping to arrest at least 30 protesters and deliver them to the Al-Khatib detention centre in Damascus after a rally in Duma.
The agent has been on trial, with another defendant, since April 23. He is the first of the two defendants to be sentenced by Koblenz’s court.
The second defendant, Anwar Raslan, 58, is accused directly of crimes against humanity, including overseeing the murder of 58 people and the torture of 4,000 others.
Raslan’s trial is expected to last until at least the end of October.
The two men are being tried on the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows a foreign country to prosecute crimes against humanity, including war crimes and genocide, regardless of where they were committed.
During the trial, Gharib wrote a letter read out by his lawyers in which he said he he felt the pains of the victims.
And it was with tears streaming down his face that he listened to his lawyers call for his acquittal, arguing that he and his family could have been killed if he had not carried out the orders of the regime.
However, Patrick Kroker, a lawyer representing the joint plaintiffs, started that Gharib’s silence during the trial gave him out as shielding the targeted culprits.
People like him “can be very important in informing us about the Syrian officials we are really targeting, but it is something he chose not to do,” said Kroker.