By Muhammed Yusuf
ISTANBUL (AA) - Imaduddin Rashid, the founding member of a France-based association monitoring Syrian casualties of war and prisoners, said that the families of the victims of the "Caesar" file who were able to identify their relatives will seek justice in various courts across the world.
In 2014 a series of photos were published by Anadolu Agency showcasing war crimes committed by the Assad regime, including murder, systematic torture and starving prisoners to death. The photos leaked by the Syrian police nicknamed "Caesar" grabbed international attention.
On June 17, the US passed the Caesar law imposing sanctions on individuals and groups who maintain links with the Syrian regime.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Rashid noted some of the victims identified held Turkish citizenship and their families were ready to file cases against the perpetrators in Turkish courts.
He recalled the efforts made by their association to bring global attention to those tortured by the Syrian regime in prisons.
Commenting on the second report published by the association, Rashid said that 55,000 pictures have been gathered featuring “detainees, protesters, and pictures of the dead and the injured.”
He added that 26,948 photos belonged to detainees in and around Damascus who were arrested at 24 detention areas and were photographed May 2011 to August 2013.
Rashid mentioned that the association reached out to Qatar for support in preparing an investigation team that helped in verifying the reliability of the documents after which the file was submitted to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Rashid believes that the number of victims could be higher considering that some pictures were not suitable for publication. Moreover, he stressed that "Caesar did not come across all the pictures while some of the pieces were impaired” adding that more than 4,000 victims remain unaccounted for.
Rashid believes that the Caesar Act has encouraged more people to seek justice for their detained or missing relatives and hence his association has set aside a WhatsApp number to communicate with them.
On their achievements so far, Rashid highlighted the association’s success in raising two cases in France and Spain while efforts to pursue perpetrators in other countries continue. He said: “Now the file is internationalized and has reached many courts, and no party can challenge it. It has been accepted because the pictures of victims have been verified which helps in raising the cases.”
This, he adds, makes it possible for the prosecutors to reach the perpetrators.
Rashid voiced his aspiration to “file cases in Turkish courts since many of the families of the victims are present in Turkey while some of them acquired Turkish citizenship.”
He concluded by expressing hope in the process as “the relevant bodies have expressed willingness to cooperate with us and we have provided documents to the Minister of Justice."
*Ibrahim Mukhtar contributed to this report from Ankara