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France seeks arrest of three Syrian officials over missing citizens

AFP  |  Paris 

has issued international arrest warrants for three senior officials in connection with the deaths of two Franco-Syrian nationals, legal sources said Monday.

The warrants, which target and two others, were issued for "complicity in acts of torture", "complicity in crimes against humanity" and "complicity in crimes".

The warrants were issued on October 8, but made public only on Monday, according to the advocacy group (FIDH).

The other high-ranking officials are Jamil Hassan, of the Syrian air force's intelligence agency, and Abdel Salam Mahmoud, in charge of the intelligence's investigative branch at the Mezzeh military airport in

They are wanted in connection with the disappearance of Mazen and Patrick Dabbagh, a father and son, who were arrested in November 2013 and who went missing after being detained in the Mezzeh detention centre, according to the FIDH.

They were officially declared dead this summer.

In June, the German weekly Spiegel reported that German prosecutors had also issued an international arrest warrant for on charges he oversaw the torture and murder of hundreds of detainees.

In both and France, investigations have touched on evidence provided by "Caesar", a former who fled his country in 2013 taking 55,000 photographs of tortured detainees with him, legal sources said in

The declined to comment at the time.

Clemence Bectarte, a and coordinator for the FIDH, said Monday that the latest warrants "demonstrate that the wall of impunity surrounding Syrian officials at the highest level can indeed be broken".

"This is an unprecedented step towards justice for the Dabbagh family and towards recognition -- by independent judges -- of the atrocities perpetrated against detainees by the Syrian regime," she and Patrick Baudouin, a for the family, said in a statement.

According to the FIDH, the three officials could be put on trial in France, regardless or whether the arrest warrants were executed, under a process of "extraterritorial jurisdiction" which can be applied to crimes against humanity.

More than 350,000 people are believed to have been killed in the seven-year Syrian war, which started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.

According to the FIDH, between 250,000 and a million civilians have also been arrested and detained by government forces and affiliated militias since the start of the protests.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, November 05 2018. 18:30 IST