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World News \ Europe

Germany detains Syrian men over suspected mass killings

German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a press conference in Tunisia - AFP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a press conference in Tunisia - AFP

03/03/2017 15:25

(Vatican Radio)  German authorities have detained two Syrians, one of whom allegedly was involved in the slaying of dozens of civilians in Syria. The arrests of the suspected members of the extremist Nusra Front comes amid pressure on Germany's government to bring war crimes suspects to justice.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report:

Germany's federal prosecutor's office says a Syrian man, identified as 35-year-old Abdalfatah H.A., is suspected of war crimes over the killing of 36 Syrian government employees by his unit in March 2013. Prosecutors say he allegedly carried out "so-called Shariah death sentences" when he was part of the extremist Nusra Front group.

German media report that the man came to Germany as an asylum-seeker, but the prosecutors office declined to confirm that.

The other suspect, identified as 26-year-old Abdulrahman A.A., belonged to the same combat unit as Abdalfatah H.A.. Investigators say that both men participated in an armed battle against Syrian government troops, including taking over a big arms depot near the central Syrian town of Mahin in November 2013.

The men, whose surnames weren't published due to German privacy rules, were detained Wednesday and Thursday in the western cities of Duesseldorf and Giessen where their apartments were raided.

BOMB PLOT

Prosecutors said the men belong to a Nusra Front unit which also included Abd Arahman A. K., a Syrian in his early 30s who was detained in Germany in June last year for allegedly being part of a plot to carry out a bomb attack in Duesseldorf.

Human rights groups have pressed the German and other governments to bring people suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity in especially Syria to trial. They view it as part of an effort to resolve the long-running conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions.

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, or ECCHR, says it has helped submit the first criminal complaint in Germany against six high-level Syrian military intelligence officials. The group says it hopes that prosecutors will take up the case under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Separately German prosecutors say they have charged a 19-year-old Lebanese man with membership in the Islamic State group on allegations he trained with the extremist group in Syria in 2015 and fought in Iraq.

The suspect, identified only as Tarik A., returned to Germany in January 2016 and was arrested in Duesseldorf on Wednesday.

CONCERNS REMAIN

Munich prosecutors also announced the detention of a 33-year-old Bosnian man who allegedly supported terrorist group Junud al-Sham by delivering them vehicles.

The man, whose name wasn't released, was detained Tuesday in the Nuremberg area.

Despite concerns over extremism, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended her open-door policy towards migrants fleeing war and poverty.

Yet she says her government will win the fight against terrorism but with compassion towards innocent people seeking shelter in the country. 

More than a million migrants have arrived in Germany, Europe's largest economy, since the start of 2015.

03/03/2017 15:25