Skip to main content
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

A Syrian doctor has been charged in Germany with crimes against humanity for allegedly torturing people in military hospitals in his homeland and killing one of them, German federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Karlsruhe said in a statement that Alla Mousa, who came to Germany in 2015 and practised medicine before he was arrested last year, is accused of 18 counts of torturing people in military hospitals in the Syrian cities of Homs and Damascus. The allegations include charges that Mr. Mousa tried to make people infertile.

A federal indictment charged him with murder, severe bodily harm, attempted bodily harm and dangerous bodily harm, the statement said.

Story continues below advertisement

Prosecutors said after the beginning of the opposition uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2011, protesters were frequently arrested and tortured. Injured civilians who were thought to be members of the opposition were also taken to military hospitals, where they were tortured and sometimes killed.

In February, a German court convicted a former member of Mr. Assad’s secret police of facilitating the torture of prisoners in a landmark ruling that human rights activists said would set a precedent for other cases in the decade-long conflict.

Eyad al-Gharib was convicted of accessory to crimes against humanity and sentenced by the Koblenz state court to 4 1/2 years in prison.

It was the first time that a court outside Syria ruled in a case alleging Syrian government officials committed crimes against humanity. German prosecutors invoked the principle of universal jurisdiction for serious crimes to bring the case that involved victims and defendants in Germany.

In the current case, prosecutors accuse the Syrian doctor of having poured alcohol over the genitals of a teenage boy and another man and setting fire to them with a cigarette lighter at military hospital No. 608 in Homs. He is also accused of torturing nine more people in the same hospital in 2011 by kicking and beating them.

The indictment also alleges that Mr. Mousa kicked and beat a jailed man who was suffering an epileptic seizure. A few days later, the doctor gave the man a medication and he subsequently died without the exact cause of death ever clearly being identified, German prosecutors said.

The indictment lists other cases of alleged torture at the military hospital in Homs, including hanging people from the ceiling and beating them with a plastic baton, and pouring flammable liquids over the hand of one of them and burning it. Mr. Mousa also is accused of kicking another patient’s open, infected wound, pouring disinfectant into it and setting it on fire.

Story continues below advertisement

In one case in 2012, Mr. Mousa allegedly beat and kicked an inmate severely. When the man defended himself by kicking back, Mr. Mousa beat him to the ground with the help of a male nurse and shortly after administered a toxic substance that killed the inmate, German prosecutors allege.

In addition to the torture allegations at the military hospital in Homs, Mr. Mousa is also accused of abusing inmates at the military hospital Mezzeh No. 601 in Damascus between late 2011 and March, 2012.

The general secretary of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights lauded the indictment of Mr. Mousa.

“Grave crimes against Syria’s civil society are not only taking place in the detention centers of the intelligence services: Syria’s torture and extermination system is complex and only exists thanks to the support of a wide variety of actors,” Wolfgang Kaleck said in a statement. “With the trial [of Mr. Mousa], the role of military hospitals and medical staff in this system could be addressed for the very first time.”

Mr. Kaleck also noted the trial could also be important in terms of addressing sexual violence.

“Sexual violence is being used as a weapon – systematically and intentionally – against the opposition in Syria. Those affected not only suffer physical and psychological consequences but are also stigmatized and discriminated by society, " Mr. Kaleck said, adding that Mr. Mousa’s trial “could make them seen and thus also send an important signal to the many survivors who have remained silent until now.”

Story continues below advertisement

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies