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Trial begins in Hamburg of alleged head of Syrian government militia

dpa international

The trial of a 47-year-old Syrian man begins on Friday in the northern German port city of Hamburg in relation to potential war crimes committed by a Syrian government militia between 2012 and 2015.

The accused is a 47-year-old Syrian man who entered Germany in February 2016 and was detained in the north-western city of Bremen in August last year, according to a spokesman for the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court.

As one of the leaders of the Shabiha militia, the accused is alleged to have participated in the abuse and enslavement of civilians as well as looting.

The militia allegedly detained people arbitrarily at checkpoints in Damascus in order to extort ransoms, make them perform forced labour or torture them.

The militia, in cooperation with a branch of the military secret service, is believed to have used violence to suppress opposition efforts.

The German federal prosecution service has accused the man of 21 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

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