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War crimes Swiss prosecutor supports Russian intervention in Syria

Del Ponte has formerly served on tribunals related to atrocities in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia

(Keystone)


Carla Del Ponte, the Swiss special prosecutor who serves on the UN commission of inquiry on Syria, has said that she generally considers Russian intervention in Syria “a good thing”. 

In speaking with Swiss Public Television RTS on Monday, Del Ponte said that “globally, I think Russian intervention is good, because then someone is attacking these terrorist groups…[such as] ISIS and al-Nusra”. 

However, she added that based on what is known, the Russians make “a bit too little distinction between terrorists and others…which is not as good”. 

Through its violent air strikes in Syria, Moscow has been accused by many Western governments of being at least partially responsible for the breakdown of the third round of Syrian peace talks in Geneva last week, and for also targeting more moderate rebel groups opposed to Assad’s government. German Chancellor Angela Merkel sharply criticised the air strikes while on a visit to Turkey on Monday.

War crimes report released

Del Ponte’s comments come as the UN commission of inquiry on Syria released a report of widespread war crimes in the Syrian conflict, with the torture and killing of thousands of people by both the Syrian government and terrorist groups operating in the region. 

The report found that tens of thousands of people had been arrested in March 2011 by the security forces of the government of President Bashar Assad, especially men and male adolescents around 15 years old. 

The terrorist militia Islamic State (IS) and the radical Islamist Al-Nusra Front were also found to have perpetrated arbitrary mass executions of soldiers and executions of prisoners following death sentences by illegal courts. 

Even some of the more moderate rebel groups had killed captured soldiers following illegal trials, according to the report which is based on interviews with 621 witnesses outside Syria as well as telephone conversations and documents. 

Del Ponte told swissinfo.ch last week that it is essential to negotiate with Assad to end the conflict, and to create a specific war crimes tribunal in a neighbouring country to address the atrocities being committed in Syria. However, she does not believe the creation of such a tribunal to be possible until a cease fire is achieved.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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