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Middle east

UN inquiry links Syria's Assad to war crimes

© Photo: AFP

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-03

A UN commission of inquiry into human rights violations in Syria has implicated President Bashar al-Assad to war crimes for the first time. The inquiry has produced “massive evidence” linked to “the highest level of government”.

Evidence has been uncovered in Syria that implicates President Bashar al-Assad and his administration in war crimes and crimes against humanity, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said Monday.

A UN commission of inquiry into human rights violations in Syria "has produced massive evidence ... (of) very serious crimes, of war crimes and crimes against humanity," she told reporters in Geneva.

"The evidence indicates responsibility at the highest level of government, including the head of state," she added.

Asked to clarify her remarks, she said: "Let me say that I have not said that a head of state is a suspect. I was quoting the fact-finding mission, which said that based on their facts,

It has also levelled accusations of war crimes at the rebels fighting Assad's regime.

The first time Assad has been implicated

It is the first time that the UN’s four-member investigative team, headed by Brazilian Paulo Sergio Pinheiro and including former war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte, has linked war crimes to Assad.

The investigators – who collected testimony in utmost secrecy – have put together a long list of suspected perpetrators.

The names "remain sealed until I am requested to furnish them to credible investigation," Pillay said, adding that "it could be a national investigation or international investigation."

She meanwhile reiterated her call for the case to be handed over to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to ensure accountability.

"The scale of viciousness of the abuses being perpetrated by elements on both sides almost defies belief," she said.

(FRANCE 24, REUTERS and AFP)
 

Date created : 2013-12-02

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