4 min read
Inside the Alaa M. Trial #44: Hippocrates' Crucible

Inside the Alaa M. Trial #44: Hippocrates' Crucible

Higher Regional Court – Frankfurt, Germany

Trial Monitoring Summary #44

Hearing Date: May 23, 2023

CAUTION: Some testimony includes descriptions of torture.

Note that this summary is not a verbatim transcript of the trial; it is merely an unofficial summary of the proceedings.

Throughout this summary, [information located in brackets are notes from our trial monitor] and “information placed in quotes are statements made by the witness, judges or counsel.” The names and identifying information of witnesses have been redacted.

SJAC’s 44th trial monitoring report details day 74 of the trial of Alaa M. in Frankfurt, Germany. This trial day's session was dedicated to examining and translating a video interview conducted by the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) with a previous witness at the request of the German Prosecutor General. In the interview, the witness listed his reasons for leaving work and Syria, including the imminent threat to his life. The witness stated that M. insulted and tortured detainees who were brought to the hospital. The witness added that he heard about M.’s participation in military missions and raids outside the hospital. The witness then recounted incidents in which he allegedly witnessed M. mistreating detainees or heard about such incidents from his colleagues. After the Court finished examining half of the interview, the session was adjourned, with the remaining part of the interview scheduled to be presented on the next trial day.


Day 74 – May 23, 2023

On this trial day, the Judges showed in court a videotaped interview that the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) conducted with P15. The investigator in the video asked his questions in English and P15 answered in Arabic, and there was an interpreter translating their conversation. In the courtroom, the Court interpreter appeared as a linguistic expert and translated the Arabic spoken in the video into German for the parties to the proceedings. The process proceeded as follows: the Judge played the video for a few minutes, paused it to let the linguistic expert read his translation of the clip which he had prepared prior to the hearing. After that, the Presiding Judge allowed the parties to ask their questions about that part, before resuming the video again, and so on.

At the beginning of the video interview, the IIIM investigator introduced himself and his teammates, and informed P15 of his rights and that the interview was being recorded. The investigator started the interview by introducing the Mechanism and its work, and explained that the German Public Prosecutor’s Office had asked the Mechanism to conduct the interview with him concerning the case against Alaa M., stressing that he did not ask P15 any questions in that regard before the interview. The investigator started his questions by asking about P15's professional background, followed by asking about the circumstances of leaving work at Homs Military Hospital and leaving Syria. The investigator reiterated what P15 stated about the threat to his life, which was one of the reasons why he left work in the hospital. The investigator wanted to know more about that issue. P15 explained that incidents and clashes took place in Homs at the time, after which the Homs Military Hospital became a center for detention and torture, as it was the main location that received medical cases and demonstrators after the clashes and other incidents. P15 mentioned that the hospital had detainees brought from security branches. P15 added that the people in the hospital were divided into a group that committed torture; another group that did not commit torture yet approved of it; and a third group that neither committed torture nor approved of it. P15 explained that as a member of the latter group, he was under intense surveillance and pressure. However, the final straw was summoning him to the Military Security Branch.

Subsequently, the investigator, whose questions revolved around M., wanted to know the relationship between P15 and M. P15 explained that M. was at the forefront of those who joined the first group and was proud to be part of it. P15 added that it was known that M. insulted, beat and tortured detainees. P15 added that M. used to go out on missions and raids outside the hospital, accompanied by the army, including to Security Branches. After that, P15 explained that he no longer met with M. as much, as each of them chose a different path and there was no common ground for dialogue, since M. considered them traitors. In response to the investigator's question, P15 explained that there were no confrontations between him and M. at all, and that M. neither addressed him negatively nor attacked him.

In his ensuing questioning, the investigator wanted to know more about M.'s professional background. P15 explained that M. had full access to the detainees in the hospital who were detained in several departments in the hospital, including in the detainees' room in the general surgery department. The investigator asked P15 if there were incidents in which he witnessed M. committing what P15 would consider a crime. P15 said that M. was among the first to participate in insulting and beating the detainees when they were brought to the emergency department. P15 recounted hearing from his colleague about an incident in which M. burned a detainee’s genitals.

Presiding Judge Koller announced that the Court finished examining half of the video interview on this day and will complete the rest of it on the next trial day. He then adjourned the session.


For more information or to provide feedback, please contact SJAC at [email protected] and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe to SJAC’s newsletter for updates on our work.