Higher Regional Court – Frankfurt, Germany
Trial Monitoring Summary #5
Hearing Dates: February 22 & 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 of witnesses have been redacted.
Day 6 – February 22, 2022
The Judges completed their questioning of the defendant. He refused to elaborate on his explanation as to why and how the allegedly false accusations were brought against him. M. said that since one of his three defense counsel was not present, he preferred to answer these questions once this counsel is back.
To facilitate the Prosecutors’ questioning, parts of M.’s hearing with the Investigating Judge at the Federal Court of Justice were shown in court. In that hearing, M. said that all accusations against him were based on one false story about an incident in which he allegedly burnt a patient at a military police station in 2012. According to M., this false story was spread by a former colleague who wanted to damage M.'s reputation because M. refused to help this colleague by working in field hospitals. M. added that he refused, not because he was pro-Assad, but because he "knew these kinds of people. They were all ISIS members, radicals and fanatic Islamists."
M. said that he felt that the German authorities did not want to help him combat the allegedly false accusations and that he therefore contacted the Syrian Embassy in Germany who offered him seats on a flight from Berlin to Beirut that was scheduled to fly Syrian students out of Germany during the pandemic in 2020. M. told the Court that he declined the offer as he wanted to continue his life in Germany.
Day 7 – February 24, 2022
On this day, the Prosecutors continued their questioning of Alaa M. He either provided one-sentence answers, saying that he did not hear, see, or notice anything, or he simply repeated what he already said on previous trial days. Questioning will continue the following week when M. is also scheduled to provide a more detailed elaboration on why and how the allegedly false accusations were brought against him.
The trial days scheduled for February 15 and 17, 2022 were cancelled.
Trial Day 6 – February 22, 2022
The trial days scheduled for February 15 and 17, 2022 were cancelled. The proceedings began at 10:10AM at the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt (Main), Germany with nine spectators and three journalists in the audience. One cameraman took videos inside the courtroom before the start of the session.
The Judges had some follow-up questions for M. regarding the room for detained patients at Mazzeh Military Hospital and his daily work routine at Homs Military Hospital, including surgeries he assisted in, different shifts he had to work, and changes in the routine around early 2011.
When asked about his colleagues, and one colleague in particular, M. told the Court that he needed an entire trial day to explain his relationship with this colleague, however, he would only do so once his third defense counsel is back. Since the Court did not want to wait longer to hear M.’s explanation in this regard, the relevant excerpt of his questioning with the Investigating Judge at the Federal Court of Justice was shown in court to facilitate the questioning. In this video excerpt, M. explained how he was contacted by a former colleague who threatened to file a complaint against M. M. knew this person from when they worked together in Syria and when M. refused to help him at a field hospital. M. said that the German police did not let him file a complaint against this colleague because he was residing outside of Germany. According to M., media reports about him including false allegations against him started a year later, he was harassed at his place of work, his wife was harassed by the same unknown person at their home, and a German journalist also showed up at M.’s place of work when M. was not there.
When asked by the Prosecutors about when, how, and why he traveled back and forth between Germany and Syria after he came to Germany, M. explained that he was allowed to travel due to his visa and went back to Syria regularly to visit his family. He also used one visit to pay a fee releasing him from any military service. Regarding his travel plans in the year he was arrested, M. told the court that he had no fixed plans to go to Syria but applied for a flight from Germany to Lebanon, organized by the Syrian embassy in light of Covid. However, he declined the flight as he intended to build a life in Germany and was concerned about uncertainties to return from Syria.
M. then answered questions about his personal life and family situation in Syria, as well as his medical record. The Prosecutors then questioned him about details of his work at the military hospitals and his relationship with individual colleagues and acquaintances.
Proceedings were adjourned at 3:49PM.
Trial Day 7 – February 24, 2022
The proceedings began at 10:09AM at the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt (Main), Germany with ten spectators and one journalist in the audience. One cameraman took videos inside the courtroom before the start of the session.
The Prosecutors’ questioning focused on M.’s time at Homs Military Hospital. When asked about witnessing mistreatment, M. said he did not see any “conspicuous behavior [him]self,” neither did he hear about it. M. then told the Court about a colleague who was said to be evil and “stuck his nose in everything.” He then answered questions about his relationship with certain colleagues and superiors and their relationships with each other.
M. was questioned on the changing situation in 2011 and how it affected his work. When asked about his stance on the protesters, M. said he considered them terrorists when they turned radical and violent. He mainly saw civilians with smaller injuries, whereas at some point the number of severely injured soldiers increased. M. added that in hindsight, he considers the government’s reaction to the demonstrations a mistake.
M. was also asked by the Prosecutors to describe the treatment of detained patients at military hospitals in Syria. M. described that there was generally enough medicine for everyone, however, it was not his job to administer it, but the nurses’. He also told the Court about a special room for detained patients where patients were tied to their beds, and some were blindfolded as he confirmed when he was shown pictures. When questioned about deceased patients, M. told the Court that he could not provide much information in this regard, as it was not his job to take care of deceased patients and because not many patients died at his department. He further clarified that when he was talking about corpses, he was only referring to recently deceased people. He does not know about those who were dead for a longer time. He only noticed the smell of dead people in the summer at Mazzeh Military Hospital and people were talking about it.
Proceedings were adjourned at 12:38PM.
The next trial day will be on March 1, 2022.
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.