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Spain probes Syrian intelligence chief over alleged torture

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Spain probes Syrian intelligence chief over alleged torture
Lebanese students opposed to the Syrian regime hold up portraits of Syria's feared security chief Ali Mamluk (r) at a 2012 protest in Beirut. Photo: AFP
09:11 CEST+02:00
A Spanish judge on Monday ordered an investigation into the alleged torture and execution of a Syrian man after a case was filed by his sister, a Spaniard of Syrian origin.

Amal Hag-Hamdo Anfalis brought the case on January 31, saying her brother Abdul Hamdo, a 42-year-old lorry driver, was illegally detained in 2013, two years after the start of the Syrian conflict, before being tortured and executed.

High court judge Eloy Velasco ruled Spain does have jurisdiction to launch the procedure against Syrian officials, nine in all, including Damascus' head of intelligence Ali Mamluk and high ranking colleagues including Abdel Fattah Qudsiyeh, Mohammad Dib Zeitun and Jamil Hassan.

Others named in the case are former Syrian vice president Faruk al-Shareh, Mohamed Said Bekheitan, a senior official with the ruling Baath party, as well as Mohamed al Haj Ali, general Jalal al Hayek and colonel Souleyman al Youssef.

Amal says a Syrian military police photographer and deserter, known as "Cesar", smuggled out evidence of his brother's death as well as that of thousands of other regime opponents.

The charge sheet against the accused alleges Abdul Hamdo was the victim of "state terrorism." One image of his lifeless body "shows clear signs of torture."

The photo archive shows he died in the Syrian military intelligence's detention centre 248 in Damascus.

Judge Velasco, who has asked Amal and "Cesar" to testify from April 10th, says the alleged crimes could constitute crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and forced disappearance.

Under Spanish law Madrid will normally only hear such a case if it involves a Spanish victim or if there is a direct material link with Spain.

Velasco found there were compelling arguments for it to be heard, given that Amal is a Spanish national who could be considered a victim.

French judicial authorities are also investigating the "Cesar" photo trove to determine if crimes against humanity were committed, while lawyers in Germany also filed a criminal complaint against the Assad regime before federal prosecutors earlier this month.

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