Transcript of our Mock Trial of the Assad Regime

Prosecution:

Cases: Chemical weapons attack in Ghouta (2013), indiscriminate attacks in Aleppo in 2016, aerial bombardment with industrial chemicals; attacks on the sick and injured in hospital and medical workers (35,000 evacuated, 100 wounded, unknown numbered killed); Khan Sheikhoun, chemical attack in 2017.

Evidence: UN Commissions and Inquiries, SG Ban Ki-Moon, Syrian Arab Red Crescent, ICRC.

Counts:

6.1 and 6.3 of the statute (which Convention or protocol?). Personal liability as if they committed the crimes themselves. Planned, ordered, or committed.

  1. Murder as a crime against humanity. Article 2a of the ICC court statute.
  2. Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being. Article 3, and Protocol 2
  3. Inhuman acts Article 2i and Protocol 2.
  4. Acts of terrorism. Article 3 common to GC Article 3b of the court statute.
  5. Attacking humanitarian services. Protocol 3.

Closing remarks.

Defense: 

Opening remarks: Focus on external aggressors and assert violations of Syria’s sovereignty. Regime open to reform and entitled under international norms. Syrian army is protecting civilians against aggressive foreign terrorists. It’s a civil war, but international aggressors are interfering and provoking. Evidence is biased and manufactured to discredit the Assad regime. US, UK and France are influencing global opinion. Syrian government is victim of others’ violations of the Geneva Conventions.

Ghouta: Evidence from US news organizations that US used Turkey to smuggle chemical weapons into Syria to US against Syrian civilians. Al-Nusra group responsible for use of chemical weapons. Al-Qaeda has tested these weapons on dogs, recorded on video. Attempts to buy Sarin gas precursors in bulk. Evidence produced through torture, not valid or believable. US has no credible authority in terms of protecting human rights. Veterans Today tracked chemical weapons given by US to terrorist groups for use in Syria. Ron Paul stated that airstrikes in de-confliction zones are violations of international law. 1925 Protocol and 1997 Convention on Chemical and Biological Weapons–US has violated it, while Syria hasn’t even signed on to this treaty. 1980 protocol on conventional weapons–white phosphorus. The US used white phosphorus on civilians in June 2017. Travel ban violates the Geneva Convention IV Art. 3 para. 1 that protects refugees and prohibits discrimination and persecution.

Aid workers (“White Helmets”) are themselves in violation of GCs because they use the cover of symbols to support terrorists against the Syrian government forces.

Saudi Arabia supports ISIS. Trump and Clinton agreed on this. Donald Trump called Saudi Arabia the world’s biggest funder of terrorism. White Helmets are funded by Saudi Arabia to funnel weapons through Turkey into Syria.

In addition, US violations of human rights are directly associated with violations in the Libyan campaign and death of Gaddafi. (Respectful treatment of the dead, treatment of prisoners, torture of detainees in Gitmo). Biased prosecutors, biased institution, no clear evidence that the Syrian regime is guilty of those violations.

Prosecution rebuttal: 

  • Who actually used chemical weapons since the defense mentioned many actors who might have used them?
  • Explain further about Saudi Arabia’s responsibility.
  • Travel ban: Bans terrorists and illegal immigration, not refugees. Branch of Iraqi refugee camps. (Not discriminatory–not a Muslim ban.) (Obama did the same thing in 2015 based on intelligence reports.)

Defense response:

  • Vetting of refugees is based only on the country of origin.
  • President’s tweets communicate intent to ban Muslim immigration.
  • Jan. 30. Why did a representative of the Geneva Convention call Pres. Trump to tell him his ban is a violation of the Geneva Convention.
  • Saudi influence destroying tolerant Islamic traditions.
  • DOJ informed Trump that ban would be challenged in court.
  • In essence, evidence has no credibility because it comes from official US sources.

Tribunal’s questions:

  1. What does the Trump travel ban have to do with charges against Assad regime? (Response: ban is an example of a violation of the GCs that demonstrate the hypocrisy of trying the Assad regime but not others responsible for violations in the Syrian conflict.)
  2. In regard to charge that White Helmets are a Saudi-backed terrorist group, how do you respond to the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee awarded them the Nobel Prize for Peace. (Response: Syrian government has confessions from White Helmets who admit they have been framing the government.)
  3. Question for the prosecution: What again are your sources? (Response: UN, ICRC, Syrian Arab Red Crescent.)
  4. What is the estimated death toll? (No ability to estimate.)
  5. Defense, yes or no. Did you use chemical weapons? Did you target civilians? Did you use white phosphorus in civilian-dense locations? (No, no and no.)
  6. Followup: White phosphorus is permitted for illumination in urban areas. Without ratification, Syria is still bound by international convention based on prior actions. Peremptory laws mean that certain actions invalidate sovereignty and allow for foreign intervention.
  7. Followup for prosecution: How can you prove that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons on its people? Response: The Syrian government has lost control over nearly half of its territory to parties such as ISIS. How can the prosecution prove that these groups didn’t deploy chemical weapons? (No delivery system; no infrastructure. The weapons were deployed by air.) Would you label the Assad regime a terrorist regime? (No, they are war criminals.) Questions about barrel bombs.

Verdicts on charges:

  1. Murder as a crime against humanity. Article 2a of the ICC court statute. No actual defense, find the defendants guilty.
  2. Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being. Article 3, and Protocol 2. No credible defense, find the defendants guilty. 
  3. Inhuman acts (torture) Article 2i and Protocol 2. Not enough evidence to convict.
  4. Acts of terrorism. Article 3 common to GC Article 3b of the court statute. Not guilty because prosecution characterized defendants as war criminals.
  5. Attacking humanitarian services. Protocol 3. Guilty.

Sentence to death by hanging, by beheading, and electrocution, or whichever comes first. (Punishment left to the new Syrian regime.)

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