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People & Power: The Trial of Anwar Raslan Part 1

People & Power: The Trial of Anwar Raslan Part 1

 

TX: January 12th 2022, 22.30pm GMT on Al Jazeera: People and Power

Channel 235 on Freeview

https://www.aljazeera.com/program/people-power

 The first of two part special report, behind the scenes at the landmark trial of a notorious Syrian colonel, Anwar Raslan. The verdict for the trial will be announced on January 13th 2022

Part two of the report will go out on January 19th, 22.30pm GMT, on

Al Jazeera’s weekly investigative documentary programme People & Power that looks at the use and abuse of power

  • Filmed on location in UK, Germany and Western Europe (CIJA Location anonymous for security issues) and Syria (archive)
  • In the film, Syrian human rights lawyer, Al Bunni speaks directly to those who’ve committed atrocities when he tells viewers: “We want to send a message. We will follow you, we will persecute you, you will never find peace after all these crimes you committed in Syria”.
  • In the film, Syrian human rights lawyer, Al Bunni speaks directly to those who’ve committed atrocities when he tells viewers: “We want to send a message. We will follow you, we will persecute you, you will never find peace after all these crimes you committed in Syria”.

 

 

Studio 9 Films gains exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the first high-profile Syrian war crimes trial of notorious colonel Anwar Raslan, accused of crimes against humanity in its new two-part series, The Trial of Anwar Raslan. The in-depth look at the landmark case, the first to deal with Syrian state torture at a senior level, broadcasts on Al Jazeera’s People and Power, January 12th 2022, 22.30pm GMT.The story is reported by Nina Donaghy and filmed on location in the UK and Western Europe.

 

Raslan, a former colonel in the Syrian intelligence service, who oversaw the notorious Branch 251 detention centre at the start of the Syrian uprising and subsequent civil war, is on trial in the small German town of Koblenz.

Drawing on extraordinary access to many of the key players in the affair, this two-part (2 x 25.00minutes) People & Power special report will tell the behind the scenes story of Raslan's prosecution, detailing the alleged crimes of the accused, the suffering of his victims and the wider context and significance of this accounting for international justice.  Studio 9 Films examines how on-going war crimes in Syria have tested the limits of the international justice system, resulting in a maverick approach from independent investigators and European lawyers and how the Syrian diaspora is increasingly now coming forward to testify about the abuses they have suffered.  The film is being broadcast the day before the conclusion of the trial in Germany.

At first, Anwar Al Bunni couldn’t place the man looking back at him, whose eye he’d caught crossing paths outside the asylum centre he was living in near Berlin. He felt ashamed he couldn’t recognise his neighbour, who so clearly recognised him. It wouldn’t be until two weeks later that Al Bunni, a Syrian human rights lawyer, would come to a chilling realisation. That man, his neighbour, who shopped at the same grocery store as him, was Anwar Raslan. A notorious, ruthless former colonel who formed the backbone of the Assad regime’s torture system and gave orders for Al Bunni’s arrest and kidnap a decade earlier. Raslan was living incognito among his victims in Berlin, as an asylum seeker. But with the help of Al Bunni, the former colonel is currently on trial for crimes against humanity in Germany.

In the film, Syrian human rights lawyer, Al Bunni speaks directly to those who’ve committed atrocities when he tells viewers: “We want to send a message. We will follow you, we will persecute you, you will never find peace after all these crimes you committed in Syria”.

 

Raslan - part of the Syrian intelligence service - oversaw the notorious Branch 251 detention centre at the start of the Syrian uprising and subsequent civil war. In the first episode, one of the co-plantiffs bringing the trial against Raslan in the small German town of Koblenz, Wassim Mukdad, details how he was brutally tortured under the Colonel’s direct orders. Told to lie on his belly and beaten until he gave Raslan the answers he wanted, Mukdad recounts the moment he came face-to-face with his tormentor in court.

 

The history of the former colonel’s prosecution is detailed, his crimes, the suffering of his victims and the wider significance of the trial for others who have suffered abuses at the hand of the Assad regime. Raslan was tried under universal jurisdiction - an inventive form of international accountability invoked by a handful of European states as an antidote to the limits of the UN Security Council and The Hague.

 

In the second episode, viewers are given a detailed look at the evidence being used to bring such war criminals to justice and hold the Syrian state to account, as increasingly the Syrian diaspora comes forward to testify. The series also interviews Stephen Rapp, Ambassador for global criminal justice, who served under the Obama Administration from 2009 to 2015, and is an important international figure when it comes to international peace and war crimes. In the documentary, Rapp says that there is a lot at stake if atrocities go unpunished: “We need to really make it clear to people that face these choices that they will eventually be in the dock and at the moment Assad stands for a lesson that you can get away with, that impunity works and the world can't live with that.”

 

Speaking about the films, Studio 9 Films’ founder and the series’ executive producer Fiona Lloyd Davies said: “These films show the shocking truth of the crimes committed in Syria. It’s humbling and inspiring to hear from survivors of torture who have the courage to speak out and ensure the world knows what happened and continues to happen in Syria even today.”

This is a landmark tribunal, the first to deal with Syrian state torture at a senior level.  Charged with crimes against humanity, Raslan is being tried under universal jurisdiction - an inventive form of international accountability invoked by a handful of European states as an antidote to the limits of the UN Security Council and The Hague.  The trial began in April 2020; the verdict will be announced on January 13th.

Raslan's likely conviction could be a ' first step' towards more comprehensive accountability for the Syrian regime - as a series of higher-ranking officers begin to be arrested and charged across Europe.

 

CREDITS

Production Company:                         Studio 9 Films Ltd

Executive Producer/ Edit Producer:    Fiona Lloyd-Davies

Reporter:                                             Nina Donaghy

 

Producer:                                             Lucile Smith

Cinematographer:                               Joe Taylor

                                                            Stephen Foote

Head of Production:                            Bella Barr

Picture Editor:                                     Damian Leask

Online Editor:                                      Boyd Nagle

Dubbing Mixer:                                    Peregrine Andrews

Composer:                                           Billy Jupp

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