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German court imposes maximum sentence in Syria war crime trial


The Court of Appeal in Berlin sentenced a man to life in prison on Thursday, more than eight years after an attack that left several people dead in the Syrian capital Damascus.

The judges found the man guilty of particularly serious war crimes as well as four counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder.

In addition, the court determined the special gravity of his guilt, which would make an early release from prison after 15 years almost impossible.

The judges found that the man had fired a grenade into a crowd of people in Damascus in 2014, killing at least four civilians. In the court’s view there was some evidence to suggest that there were significantly more victims, though this was not sufficient for a conviction, it said.

The crime was said to have been triggered by the killing of one of the accused’s nephews in an exchange of fire with fighters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the turmoil of the Syrian civil war.

The court essentially followed the motion of the federal prosecution with its verdict. The defence had pleaded for acquittal. The verdict is not yet legally binding.

The stateless man – who describes himself as a Syrian Palestinian – was arrested in Berlin at the beginning of August 2022 and has been in pre-trial detention since then.

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