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Three Senior Syrian Officials To Face Paris Trial In Absentia For Alleged War Crimes

Three Syrian officials will face trial in absentia in Paris for the death of a French-Syrian father and son.

Three senior Syrian officials are set to face trial in absentia in a Paris court on Tuesday, after being accused of involvement in the disappearance and subsequent death of a French-Syrian father and son. This marks the first time a serving Syrian official will be tried for alleged war crimes.

The case, which has been ongoing for years, centers around Mazen Dabbagh and his son Patrick, who were arrested by Syrian Airforce Intelligence agents in November 2013 and later died in custody.

The officials accused of complicity in their disappearance and torture are Ali Mamlouk, a current security adviser to President Bashar al-Assad, and Jamil Hassan and Abdel Salam Mahmoud, both former high-ranking officers in the Airforce Intelligence unit.
The trial, which will be held at the Cour d’Assises over four days, will proceed without the presence of the accused.
Mazen Darwish, head of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression, which supports the case, emphasised its significance for Syrians, as it addresses issues of “arbitrary detentions, torture, and extrajudicial killings,” behaviors he described as systemic within the regime.

Syria’s government, along with President Assad and ally Russia, has denied accusations of mass killings and torture throughout the war, which the United Nations estimates has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.
While there have been no efforts to prosecute members of the Syrian government within Syria, where courts are seen as serving the president’s interests, previous trials in Europe have targeted former officials.

Internationally, there has been no accountability in tribunals such as the International Criminal Court, which Syria is not a member of. However, the International Court of Justice has ordered Syria to halt acts of torture.

Melissa Enoch

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