France Opens Probe into Assad Regime for Crimes against Humanity

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France has launched an inquiry into Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime for alleged crimes against humanity, saying it was forced to act in the face of "systematic cruelty".

The announcement Wednesday came after world powers sparred at the United Nations over the embattled Syrian leader's fate.

A judicial source told AFP that prosecutors in Paris, with the backing of the foreign ministry, had opened a preliminary inquiry on September 15 into alleged crimes committed by the Syrian government between 2011 and 2013.

The French investigation is largely based on evidence from a former Syrian army photographer known by the codename "Caesar" who fled the country in 2013, taking with him some 55,000 graphic photographs. He now lives in France under tight security.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France had a "responsibility" to take action.

"Faced with these crimes that offend the human conscience, this bureaucracy of horror, faced with this denial of the values of humanity, it is our responsibility to act against the impunity of the killers," Fabius said in a statement.

He said the "thousands of unbearable photos, authenticated by many experts, which show corpses tortured and starved to death in the prisons of the regime, demonstrate the systematic cruelty of the Assad regime".

The inquiry will be led by France's war crimes body.

The judicial source said the term "crimes against humanity" was used to include kidnappings and torture by the regime in the probe.

The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) welcomed the announcement, saying the investigation was "a world first".

While Assad is unlikely to ever stand trial in a French court, the inquiry could add to political pressure on the Syrian leader in the midst of a diplomatic row between the West and Russia and Iran over his fate.

The Syrian conflict has taken center stage at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, where U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin clashed over how to bring an end to Syria's civil war.

On Tuesday, Obama said removing Assad was a vital step to defeating Islamic State jihadists who have taken advantage of the chaos in Syria to bring large parts of the country and neighboring Iraq under its rule.

French President Francois Hollande echoed Obama's call in his U.N. speech, but Putin -- a long-time Assad ally -- dismissed their pleas, saying they "should not be involved in choosing the leadership of another country".

Syria's four-year war has killed more than 240,000 people and Western diplomats have accused Assad's regime of killing more of their own people than the Islamic State group by dropping barrel bombs -- charges the government denies.

The brutal conflict has also displaced millions of people, a key driver behind Europe's refugee crisis.

The photographs that Caesar brought out of Syria show people with their eyes gouged out, emaciated bodies, people with wounds on the back or stomach, and also a picture of hundreds of corpses lying in a shed surrounded by plastic bags used for burials.

Entitled "Assad's secret killings," the dossier is being used by international bodies including the U.N. as part of an investigation into the regime's role in "mass torture".

The Syrian government has branded the report "political".

Ceasar said in an interview with French magazine L'Obs released Wednesday that he wanted to "show the real face of Bashar Assad -- that of a dictator who has caused a lot of blood to flow".

Fabius said the opening of the French probe should not prevent the United Nations and particularly its International Commission of Inquiry on Syria to press on with their own investigations.

Comments 12
Thumb liberty 30 September 2015, 07:43

About time this criminal is held accountable for his horrid war crimes.

Thumb Mystic 30 September 2015, 11:58

About time you people realized, you are fighting for a lost cause. The takfiris are not so popular in the West any longer, only Obama and those other leaders seems to be kissing a little Saudi foot once in a while, otherwise the people of the West knows your true goals and desires.

liberty and caliphate walks hand in hand these days it seems?

Default-user-icon mowaten (Guest) 30 September 2015, 08:30

I am bored and feel the urge to troll
Gasoline prices rose LL100 while diesel prices rose LL200.

Missing panzergen 30 September 2015, 08:57

LOL its all Political. What is France gain in Assad's ouster is the real quesion.

The obvious is to pacify and please its 6 million strong Sunni population. lolol!!

Thumb blablablablabla 30 September 2015, 09:21

La justice française ne peut être compétente que s'il y a un victime française, "La justice française est compétente pour juger les responsables présumés de ces crimes si un Français ou un Franco-Syrien figure parmi les victimes, ce que s'attachent à savoir les gendarmes de l'office central de lutte contre les crimes contre l'humanité, les génocides et les crimes de guerre, qui ont été chargés de mener les investigations."
Mais bizarre que cette action ne se fasse qu'après l'acceptation hier d'une plainte contre Daech pour avoir égorger un officier franco syrien et appartenant à l'armée syrienne à Deir el Zor ...

Bizarre bizarre

Default-user-icon blablablablabla and one more bla (Guest) 30 September 2015, 12:57

excellent comments as usual from you

Missing panzergen 30 September 2015, 23:36

Exactly. . the French justice does not have any jurisdiction or rights to have any judicial investigations whatsoever outside of French national border.

Missing ysurais 30 September 2015, 09:51

Ah come on.. look into this poor face ---he is such an innocent man? he has not killed anyone.
it is the other that are killing..

Missing humble 30 September 2015, 10:07

The Butcher is the greatest criminal in human History...and the supporters of a criminal are.....

Missing panzergen 30 September 2015, 23:40

Why always villify only Assad? What about the Saudi air coalition who regularly kills innocent Yemenis with over 40 or so civilians killed in a weeding party recently? Assad is bad KSA is good? lolol. . .Also what about the so called moderate rebels who regularly fires rockets in civilian population centers? Aren't the as bad? ..Hypocrites!!!

Thumb Mystic 30 September 2015, 11:55

Hollande from France should be facing war crimes, after his regime soldiers gunned down those two Salafis after the Charlie Hebdo incident.

They were brutally murdered by the evil French security forces, Hollande must go!

Missing peace 30 September 2015, 21:51

pityful idiot you are.....