Higher Regional Court – Frankfurt, Germany
Trial Monitoring Summary #6
Hearing Date: March 24, 2022
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.
Day 8 – March 24, 2022
The defendant provided his long-awaited explanation as to why he thinks that the allegations were brought against him. According to M., his former colleague who allegedly joined armed Islamic terrorist groups was mad at M. because M. refused to help him at a field hospital. The colleague then made false allegations against M. publicly.
When questioned by the Judges, M. said he found out that his former colleague joined armed terrorist groups after M. checked the colleague’s Facebook account. When the Judges asked M. why exactly these allegations were false, M. repeated that he was not where the alleged crimes were committed at the times when they occurred. For those incidents at which he was indeed present, M. denied having been involved in any of the crimes. M. called the allegations a "conspiracy" against him.
The trial days scheduled for March 1, 8, 10 15, 17 and 18, 2022 were cancelled due to illness of a judge. To compensate for recent delays that were caused by illness, two additional trial dates were announced: Tuesday, March 29 and Thursday, May 19, 2022.
Trial Day 8 – March 24, 2022
The proceedings began at 10:12AM at the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt (Main), Germany with ten spectators and five journalists in the audience. One cameraman took videos inside the courtroom before the start of the session.
After explaining the COVID-19 related cancellation of previous trial days, the Presiding Judge opened the floor to one of the Plaintiffs’ Counsel who told the Court about recent threats against his client. The Counsel directly accused one of the Defense Counsel of being involved in the situation by saying that if anything was to happen to his client, he would sue the Defense Counsel for aiding and abetting murder. The Defense Counsel called these allegations absurd and unfounded, and ensured that he has nothing to do with the threats and that the trial is of no interest for the Syrian government, since government media is not reporting about it.
M.’s Statement on the source of and reason for the allegedly false accusations against him
M. explained to the Court why he thinks that one of his former colleagues is behind the allegedly false public accusations against him. Since many of the reports were circulating on social media, M. approached two relatives to help him search the colleague’s social media profiles to find information in support of M.’s allegation that the colleague led a smear campaign for secularist grounds.
When asked by the Judges about how M. explains that there are more witnesses against him, apart from his former colleague, M. said there was a conspiracy against him. According to M., the media reports against him often contain the same false information. M. also added that he was not at the place where the alleged crimes happened at the time specified in the media or the indictment. When the Judges pointed out that for some charges, M.’s own descriptions of where he was at that time matched with the indictment, M. explained that he was not involved in the alleged crimes.
The Judges then asked more detailed follow-up questions on M.’s explanation of how and why his former colleague started the false allegations against M. M. repeatedly referred to a paper laying in front of him which apparently contained the results of his previous social media research about his former colleague. The Judges repeatedly told M. that he cannot read out what was written on the paper because the Court was for now only interested in M.’s own observations and knowledge, any other pieces of evidence need to be addressed at a later stage.
The Prosecutors’ questioning first focused on the method and extent of M.’s social media research. In answering these questions, M. indicated that he did not approve an attempted hacking of a social media profile that was conducted by someone that M. hired. The Prosecutors then asked M. some follow-up questions about his time in Homs and his move from Homs to Damascus. They also questioned him about other former colleagues and friends that M. was in contact with and worked with.
The proceedings were adjourned at 12:37PM.
The next trial day will be on March 29, 2022 at 1:30PM.
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