Higher Regional Court – Frankfurt, Germany
Trial Monitoring Summary #12
Hearing Dates: May 17 & 19, 2022
Inside the Alaa M. Trial: Making a Show for the Media
SJAC’s 12th trial monitoring report details days 16 & 17 of the trial of Alaa M. in Frankfurt, Germany. The defense team started their questioning of P1, the first survivor-witness to testify in Court. He was questioned about how and by whom he was connected to the case, what information about the case and previous trial days he received from his counsel, and with whom else he spoke about the case. After the first of the two trial days ended as one of the longest days in the trial so far, P1 was unavailable for the second trial day. This day was thus dedicated to the inspection and translation of Alaa M.’s military booklet. Alaa M. also provided a statement to the Court, explaining when and how he got an exemption from mandatory military service while living outside Syria, as well as how he was able to get fully relieved from service by making a final payment.
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 16 – May 17, 2022
On one of the longest days of the trial so far, the defense team started their questioning of P1, the first survivor-witness in the trial. The Defense Counsels’ questions mostly focused on how P1 learned about the proceedings against Alaa M., and how and by whom P1 was eventually connected to the case. The defense team questioned P1 about the extent of the communication between him and his counsel in relation to the content of previous trial days. After there was some confusion about P1’s choice of words in this regard, the Judges understood from P1’s statement that he was informed about place and time of trial days.
One of the defense counsels had to be reminded several times to lower his voice when speaking to P1. The repetitiveness of the defense team’s questions was also noted by the Judges and Prosecutor. At the end of the trial day, P1 was visibly exhausted and expressed his wish for his testimony to be completed as soon as possible. His questioning by the defense team will continue for at least one more day.
Day 17 – May 19, 2022
Since P1 was unexpectedly not available to continue his testimony, the Court instead heard from a linguistic expert who translated the military booklet that was found during the search of Alaa M.’s apartment in Germany. The expert provided clarification whenever the parties to the case had questions concerning his translation.
Following the expert testimony and inspection of his military booklet, Alaa M. provided a statement to the Court. He elaborated on how and when he paid the final fee to get exemption from the mandatory military service in Syria, and he detailed the technicalities of prolonging the exemption while living abroad.