Assad Torturing, Killing Enemies on 'Industrial Scale'

Prosecutors base report on 55K photos taken by defector
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2014 2:45 PM CST
Assad Is Torturing, Killing Enemies on 'Industrial Scale'
A Syrian flag flies as pro-Syrian regime protesters hold a rally in support of President Bashar Assad, pictured in the large banner, in Damascus, Syria, Friday, Dec. 9, 2011.   (AP Photo/Muzaffar Salman)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime is torturing and murdering its enemies on a vast and shocking scale, according to a cache of evidence released by war crimes prosecutors, CNN reports. The report relies on thousands of photos of dead bodies that were apparently killed by strangulation, starvation, and beatings; some had no eyes and others had been electrocuted, the Guardian reports. The bodies are "reminiscent of the pictures of those [who] were found still alive in the Nazi death camps after World War II," said Desmond de Silva, one of three lawyers who wrote the report.

Each body was apparently taken to a doctor who wrote out a false cause of death, such as "heart attack"; the bodies were then buried and a death certificate given to the family. All 55,000 photos, showing 11,000 victims, were taken by a photographer for the Syrian military police who supports the rebel opposition and fled the country—but prosecutors still trusted his evidence. "This is a smoking gun," said David Crane, another report author. "This is direct evidence of the regime's killing machine." But legal action seems unlikely for now, CNN notes, because Syria is not in the International Criminal Court, and the UN Security Council won't act due to Russian veto power. "All we can do is put the ammunition in the pistol," said de Silva. "It is for others to aim it and pull the trigger." See a CNN video containing images from the report, but be warned, they are graphic. (Read more Syria stories.)

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