DOn the first day of his admission, the Syrian doctor Alaa M., who was accused of torture before the Higher Regional Court, denied having set fire to the genitals of a youth in the emergency room of the military hospital in Homs in 2011. “I didn’t do anything,” he said. He also never operated on a prisoner without anesthesia, as the federal prosecutor accuses him of. Firstly, anesthetics were not his responsibility, secondly, as a civilian assistant doctor, he was only allowed to act in the presence of a military doctor. M. also denied hitting prisoners with medical instruments. He also never injured his hand during an assault – according to the indictment, this incident led to the doctor only choosing softer parts of the body when hitting prisoners. He was also never in Homs prison, where Alaa M. is said to have abused civilians, the accused said on Tuesday.
He had previously said on the question of his political stance at the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011: “I came to terms with the regime like millions of Syrians in order to be able to get on with my life. But I was never politically active and never a super supporter of the regime.” When asked about his current attitude, he replied: “If I see photos today, it is not acceptable.” He was “against violence from both sides” and did not approved, as some demonstrations escalated. He is neither religious nor in a party. “I was a small assistant doctor,” says M., who only wanted to treat his patients.
“I came to terms with the regime”
The federal prosecutor is convinced that he was deeply loyal to the regime and wanted to participate in the suppression of the opposition by torturing him. M., on the other hand, says that he was very afraid of being the focus of military intelligence himself: they were in power in the military hospital in Homs. Prisoners were brought to the emergency room, some blindfolded and tied up, and given numbers. Some he treated while blindfolded. That was “humanly not ok,” says M. when asked whether he could answer for this as a doctor. But he couldn’t change anything about it. He saw for himself how prisoners were beaten by secret service agents and nursing staff. “If I had said something, I would have ended up in their place.”
The trial is the first in the world in which an allegedly active torturer of the Syrian regime has to answer. In mid-January, the Koblenz Higher Regional Court sentenced to life imprisonment a secret service colonel who, according to the judges, was responsible for the torture of at least 4,000 people and the deaths of at least 30 as head of interrogation in Al-Khatib prison in Damascus.