In the world's first trial of state torture in Syria, the Koblenz Higher Regional Court (OLG) sentenced the accused to life imprisonment on Thursday.

The judges found Anwar Raslan guilty of 58 years of crimes against humanity, 27 murders, torture and other offenses.

According to the indictment, the accused was an employee of the secret service of the Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad and is said to have run a prison.

In the Al-Khatib detention center in the Syrian capital Damascus, between April 2011 and September 2012, at least 4,000 detainees were allegedly tortured with beatings, kicks and electric shocks under the authority of the defendant.

Many died in the process.

The verdict largely corresponded to the demands of the Federal Prosecutor's Office, which had represented the prosecution in the trial, which was followed with attention around the world.

The defense had demanded acquittal. 

According to the Federal Prosecutor's Office, Raslan, as the military commander, had assigned the interrogators and prison guards to work in the notorious prison and had determined their work processes.

He also knew about the extent of the torture.

The abuse was used to force confessions and obtain information.

Procedure according to the principle of universal law

In the trial, which began in April 2020, a second man was also charged as a subordinate in the torture.

Almost a year ago in February 2021, the court had already sentenced him to four and a half years in prison for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity.

The verdict is not yet legally binding.

The case started because former victims who fled to Germany recognized their alleged tormentors.

These were arrested in Zweibrücken in Rhineland-Palatinate and in Berlin.

The fact that the process takes place in Germany is due to the so-called world law principle in international criminal law.

According to this, acts may also be negotiated that have no direct connection to Germany.