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Inside the Alaa M. Trial #10: The First Survivor Testifies

Inside the Alaa M. Trial #10: The First Survivor Testifies

Higher Regional Court – Frankfurt, Germany

Trial Monitoring Summary #10

Hearing Dates: May 3 & 5, 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 13 – May 3, 2022

The Court heard the testimony of the first survivor-witness in the trial. The witness, P1, described his detention in various Intelligence Services branches in Syria, as well as his stay at Homs Military Hospital during his detention. The witness described how, while he was detained in a special room for detained patients in the hospital, he witnessed a detainee dying after he received an unknown substance that was administered by the Defendant.

As part of the questioning, the Judges reiterated their concern that P1 might have received detailed information about the content of the trial from his counsel and other witnesses. P1 denied these claims and told the Court that his counsel only communicated with him to inform him about dates, the place of the trial and general procedure.

Day 14 – May 5, 2022

The Judges continued their questioning of P1, focusing on detailed descriptions of what P1 had to endure at the Military Hospital and his identification of some of the alleged perpetrators, including Alaa M. P1’s testimony was repeatedly interrupted by confusion about the correct German translation of certain Arabic words.

Trial Day 13 – May 03, 2022

The proceedings began at 10:15AM at the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt (Main), Germany with ten spectators and six media representatives in the audience. A cameraman took videos inside the courtroom before the start of the session.

Judges’ Questioning

The Judges questioned P1, the first survivor-witness in this trial, on his detention at different Syrian Intelligence Services, and how these developments led to him being transferred to Homs Military Hospital. P1 then answered questions about what he experienced at the hospital. According to P1, detained patients at the hospital did not receive medical treatment and were instead tortured by hospital and intelligence staff. P1 identified Alaa M. as one of the doctors who regularly beat and tortured detained patients. The Judges’ questions then focused on the details of a particular incident that P1 described in court. P1 identified Alaa M. as the doctor who administered an unknown substance to a detained patient who apparently died shortly after.

In addition to P1’s descriptions of what he experienced and witnessed at Homs Military Hospital, the Judges were particularly concerned about the communication between P1 and his counsel, as well as between P1 and other witnesses in this case.

Additional Observations

P1 was assisted by one interpreter sitting next to him who interpreted P1’s statements from Arabic to German and the Judges’ questions from German to Arabic. However, there were misunderstandings between P1 and the interpreter because of their different Arabic dialects. In addition, confusion for P1 and others was caused by discussions about the correct translation of certain Arabic terms, in addition to people talking over each other. P1 at times seemed to lack context as the interpreter was unable to translate all discussions for P1.

The proceedings were adjourned at 4:04PM

Trial Day 14 – May 05, 2022

The proceedings began at 10:26AM at the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt (Main), Germany with a delay due to technical issues, and six spectators and five media representatives in the audience. A cameraman took videos inside the courtroom before the start of the session.

Administrative Matters

The Presiding Judge reiterated his concerns about detailed media reports about the trial and noted that, although there are currently no concrete developments in this relation that would require action on side of the Court, he would continue to observe the situation and encouraged others to do so as well.

In light of previous confusion regarding interpretation and P1’s complaint about miscommunication, the Presiding Judge asked all parties not to engage in discussions about interpretation while the witness was testifying but to instead note their questions to be clarified later in order not to disturb the witness, who was asked to raise problems with interpretation should he continue to face them.

Judges’ Questioning

The Judges continued their questioning of P1, first focusing on descriptions of the facilities where he was detained and tortured during his stay at Homs Military Hospital and the general hygienic and nutritional condition there. P1 then answered detailed questions about the mistreatment of other detained patients that he witnessed at Homs military Hospital, as well as follow-up questions about the alleged death of a fellow detained patient.

Additional Observations

This trial day was again marked by repeating discussions between the parties relating to the correct translations of certain Arabic terms in order to resolve linguistic contradictions.

The proceedings were adjourned at 04:07PM.

The next trial day will be on May 9, 2022 at 10:00AM.


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