A group of German lawyers have filed a criminal complaint against the leader of Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Speaking at a press conference in Berlin on Monday, attorney Mehmet Daimaguler said they were optimistic the federal prosecutor would open a formal investigation following their complaint, which focuses on war crimes committed in the Syrian city of Aleppo between April 24 and Nov. 19 this year.
“The incidents in Aleppo are well documented by international observers, by the UN and the Human Rights Watch,” Daimaguler said, adding that they listed nearly 50 incidents, including airstrikes that targeted residential areas, hospitals and humanitarian facilities based on reliable reports and statements of witnesses.
Attorney Jens Dieckmann said there was sufficient information showing Assad bore responsibility for war crimes committed in Aleppo.
“As a president, al-Assad is responsible for the entire actions of the government and the military policy,” Dieckmann said, adding that as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, he also bore direct responsibility for the crimes committed in Aleppo.
Germany's "code of crimes against international law" allows the filing of lawsuit against suspects of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed abroad.
It was not immediately clear whether the federal prosecutor would open a formal investigation and move forward with a criminal prosecution against al-Assad, following the criminal complaint filed by the six German lawmakers.
But Daimaguler underlined that even an initial investigation by the federal prosecutor would be significant, as it would gather and secure several pieces of evidence on the war crimes committed in Syria, which were likely to be prosecuted by an international tribunal in the future.
“Such a move would also increase the political pressure on al-Assad,” he said.
More than 508 civilians have been killed and 1,871 others injured since mid-November in regime attacks on Aleppo – once the second-largest city in Syria.
In the last 10 days, all hospitals and medical facilities have halted operations because of attacks. School activities have also been disrupted.
Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since early 2011, when the regime of President Bashar al-Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protests -- which erupted as part of the "Arab Spring" uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.