PARIS: A Paris court ordered life prison sentences for three top Syrian security officials on Friday for complicity in crimes against humanity and war crimes in a landmark case.

It is the first time that France has held a trial on abuses committed during Syria’s civil war since 2011.

The accused — Ali Mamlouk, a former head of the National Security Bureau; Jamil Hassan, a former director of the air force intelligence service; and Abdel Salam Mahmoud, a former head of investigations — were all absent, but there are international warrants for their arrest.

Many in the court galleries rose to applaud after the ruling was announced.

The three officials are believed to be in Syria. Mamlouk has become a top adviser to President Bashar Al Assad.

They were accused of their role in the deaths of two French-Syrian men, Mazzen Dabbagh and his son Patrick, who were arrested in Damascus in 2013 and never seen again. They were declared dead in 2018.

At the time of his arrest, Patrick Dabbagh was a 20-year-old arts and huma­nities student at the Uni­versity of Damascus. His father was a senior education adviser at the French school in Damascus.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2024

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