Kassim A. joined the armed resistance against the Syrian government in the city of Dara’a (Syria) in 2012. His case is part of ongoing structural and person-specific investigations in Germany for international crimes committed by members of non-state armed groups in Syria and Iraq.
The structural investigation concerning crimes committed by non-state armed groups in Syria and Iraq, including extrajudicial killings, torture, inhumane treatment, abduction for the purpose of blackmail and other war crimes, was opened by the German prosecutorial authorities in August 2014. It has resulted thus far in investigations against over 50 individuals involved in crimes committed by non-state armed groups, which have led to indictments and further prosecution on several occasions.
A part of the investigation is focused on the attack by the Islamic State (ISIS) against the region around the town of Sinjar (northwestern Iraq) in August 2014. The Yazidi minority was reportedly subjected to genocide, mass execution, widespread kidnappings and sexual enslavement in Syria and Iraq. In December 2016, the Supreme Court of Germany issued an arrest warrant against a high-ranking ISIS commander allegedly responsible for genocide and war crimes, including abduction and sexual enslavement of Yazidi women in Syria and Iraq.
On 13 February 2020, the Higher Regional Court of Koblenz found the Syrian national Kassim A. guilty of committing a war crime, namely the demeaning and degrading treatment of a person protected by international humanitarian law. He received a sentence of one year and six months.
According to the judgment, Kassim A. joined the armed resistance against the Syrian government in the city of Dara’a in 2012. His phone contained pictures of him posing with the severed head of a combatant, who presumably was part of the Syrian state forces. While he admitted to appearing in the photograph, the hearings of evidence did not bring up any indications that the accused participated in the execution of the combatant.