A Paris court confirms a French arrest warrant against Bashar al-Assad News

The Paris Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld France’s international arrest warrant for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Bashar al-Assad Charged with complicity in committing crimes against humanity In the deadly chemical attacks that occurred in August 2013, according to the victims’ lawyer.

Lawyers Jane Sulzer and Clemens Witt, who represented the plaintiffs and NGOs that filed the complaint against the Syrian president in France, praised the decision and described it as a historic ruling.

Last May, French anti-terrorism prosecutors asked the Paris Court of Appeal to issue a decision to lift the arrest warrant against Assad, saying that he enjoyed absolute immunity as a head of state in power.

With today’s ruling, the court has rejected the Public Prosecution Office’s request to cancel the arrest warrant due to the personal immunity of presidents while they are in power.

Young children after their death due to toxic chemical gases in Eastern Ghouta
Bashar al-Assad is accused, along with his brother and two Syrian army generals, of being responsible for the “chemical massacre” in Eastern Ghouta (Al Jazeera)

Immunity is not absolute

“It is the first time that a national court has recognized that the personal immunity of a sitting head of state is not absolute,” the lawyers said in a statement.

The French judicial authorities issued international arrest warrants last November against Al-Assad, his brother Maher Al-Assad, commander of the 4th Army Division (elite forces), and the two Syrian generals Ghassan Abbas and Bassam Al-Hassan on charges of complicity in attacks that constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

These attacks include what was known as the “chemical massacre” in 2013 on the eastern Ghouta of Damascus, which was controlled by the opposition at the time.

More than 1,000 people were killed and thousands injured in chemical attacks launched by regime forces in August 2013 on Douma andeastern GotaAccording to the Syrian opposition.

The Anti-Terrorism Public Prosecution appealed the arrest warrant against the Syrian president, but not the one issued against the other three.

In the coming days, the Anti-Terrorism Prosecution is expected to file an appeal before the Court of Cassation, the highest court in the French judicial system.

In a separate case, last month, a Paris court sentenced 3 high-ranking Syrian officials in absentia to life imprisonment on charges of complicity in war crimes in a historic case against the Assad government and the first case of its kind in Europe.

Since 2011, Syria has witnessed a bloody conflict that has caused the death of more than half a million people and the displacement of more than half of the population.

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