NGOs file case in Sweden over Syrian chemical attacks  

AFP
Stockholm, Sweden  Published: Apr 20, 2021, 07:41 PM(IST)

A file photo of Syrian flag. Photograph:( AFP )

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In the complaint filed with Swedish police, the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), Civil Rights Defenders, Syrian Archive (SA) and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) accuse the Damascus regime of chemical attacks using sarin gas, in Khan Shaykhun in 2017 and Ghouta in 2013

Four NGOs announced on Monday they have filed a criminal complaint in Sweden against members of the Syrian regime, including President Bashar al-Assad, over chemical weapons attacks in 2013 and 2017.  

In the complaint filed with Swedish police, the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), Civil Rights Defenders, Syrian Archive (SA) and the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) accuse the Damascus regime of chemical attacks using sarin gas, in Khan Shaykhun in 2017 and Ghouta in 2013. 

Sarin gas is illegal under the international Chemicals Weapons Convention.  

The complaint includes testimonies from victims and survivors of the attacks as well as "hundreds of documentary evidence items, including photos and videos," and analysis of the Syrian military command structure.  

"Ultimately, the purpose of the complaint is that those responsible for these chemical weapons attacks be brought to justice"," Aida Samani, legal adviser at Civil Rights Defenders, told AFP.  

"What we are hoping for is that they will open an investigation... and detain those suspected of these acts in their absence," Samani added.  

Samani explained that such a decision would mean Swedish prosecutors could issue a European arrest warrant to apprehend the suspects should they enter Europe.  

According to a summary of the complaint reviewed by AFP, over a dozen individuals were named as suspected perpetrators, including President Bashar al-Assad in both cases.  

Syrian Defence Minister Ali Abdullah Ayyoub was linked to the Khan Shaykhun attack and Bashar al-Assad's brother Maher Al-Assad was linked to the Ghouta attack.  

Other high-ranking members of the regime and Syrian military, as well as military personnel believed to be directly involved in the attacks, were listed.  

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