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Germany ‘seeks extradition’ of Syria’s Jamil Hassan from Lebanon | Syria News

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Beirut, Lebanon – Germany has asked Lebanon to extradite Syrian General Jamil Hassan, Der Spiegel reported, after the notorious chief of Syria’s Air Force Intelligence Directorate was reportedly admitted to a hospital in Lebanon.

The German federal prosecutor had issued an arrest warrant against the general in June for committing crimes against humanity based on a complaint filed by Syrian refugees in Germany. 

Thousands of Syrians have allegedly been tortured in detention centres under direct control of General Hassan, Syria’s longest serving intelligence chief and considered to be among the most powerful officials in the country. 

Al-Masdar, an Arabic-language news outlet, first reported on Thursday that General Hassan was in Lebanon to seek medical treatment. There has been on official confirmation on his whereabouts since. 

Anwar al-Bunni, a Germany-based Syrian human rights lawyer, told Al Jazeera that his sources informed him that General Hassan was being treated under the watch of Hezbollah, the Iran-backed political group and militia, and a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“I found out through sources in Syria and then through those in Lebanon that Jamil Hassan was in a hospital in Lebanon under Hezbollah’s protection,” said Bunni, who is helping former Syrian prisoners seeking justice in European countries.

“Germany’s foreign office called me to find out what I knew and I told them. I think they must have also collected their own intelligence.”

General Hassan is a member of al-Assad’s inner circle and a vociferous proponent of tougher tactics to quell the uprising that began in 2011. The United States treasury froze his assets because of his role in cracking down on protestors that year.

Patrick Kroker, a lawyer with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights which has also facilitated the filing of the case against General Hassan in Germany, said that the idea behind Germany’s diplomatic move is to restrict the general’s movement and send a message that Berlin is determined to not just “chase but also catch Hassan”.

“This is big,” he said. “It means that Germany did not issue the arrest warrant for symbolic reasons but is really going after him.”

However, Germany has shied away from officially confirming the extradition request. Al Jazeera reached out to the country’s federal prosecutor’s office but had yet to receive a response at the time of publication.

Lebanon’s Interior Ministry denied receiving any notification from Interpol to arrest the general.

Michael Aoun, Lebanon’s President, said that if General Hassan was in Lebanon, his office did not know. “If he [General Hassan] sneaked in because of the difficulty of controlling the border, it must be investigated,” Aoun said.

Aoun’s political party, the Free Patriotic Movement, is an ally of Hezbollah in the Lebanese parliament. However, experts said information about the possible whereabouts of the Syrian general may well have been concealed from him.

“Lebanon is under the control of Hezbollah which will never let the Lebanese government send the Syrian general to Germany,” Bunni said.

Kroker agreed and said that while chances of Lebanon handing the general over might be slim, the message is clear. “He cannot rely on the benevolence of every country he travels to, not for long.”

Syria is not a signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court [ICC] and its citizens therefore cannot be prosecuted in The Hague. Furthermore, Russia and China have vetoed several attempts to set up an international tribunal to adjudicate on the crimes, purportedly to protect high-ranking officials in the Syrian administration such as General Hassan.

However, Germany’s universal jurisdiction laws allow it to prosecute people for war crimes committed anywhere in the world. Just last week, two Syrian intelligence officials were apprehended by German law enforcement. Anwar R was arrested for his involvement in torturing Syrians between 2011-12 and Eyad A for assisting in the killing of two and torturing of at least 2,000 people.

Kroker attached huge significance to the arrests. “For the first time, there will be a trial and Syrians would be able to see that it is possible to get justice. In all likelihood, it would be a public trial.”

These two officials were in Germany while General Hassan is unlikely to ever set foot in Europe. Germany cannot prosecute in absentia, leading experts to believe that he would escape a trial.

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Ottawa announces new funding to combat online child abuse

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Ottawa has announced $22 million in funding to fight online child abuse.

Noting that police-reported incidents of child pornography in Canada increased by 288 per cent between 2010 and 2017, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Tuesday.

It follows a London meeting last week that focused on the exploitation of children between Goodale and his counterparts from the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, collectively known as the Five Eyes intelligence group.

Major internet companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, were also at the meeting and agreed to a set of rules the members of the group proposed to remove child pornography from the internet quicker.

On Tuesday, Goodale warned internet companies they had to be better, faster and more open when in comes to fighting child abuse on line.

In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 photo, detectives use the Cellebrite system to extract information from cellphones at the State Police facility in Hamilton Township, N.J. “Operation Safety Net,” the results of which were announced in December, netted 79 people suspected of exploiting children. (Thomas P. Costello/Asbury Park Press/Canadian Press)

“If human harm is done, if a child is terrorized for the rest of their life because of what happened to them on the internet, if there are other damages and costs, then maybe the platform that made that possible should bear the financial consequences,” Goodale said.

The government plan includes $2.1 million to intensify engagement with digital industry to develop new tools online and support effective operating principles, $4.9 million for research, public engagement, awareness and collaboration with non-governmental organizations and $15.25 million to internet child exploitation units in provincial and municipal police forces across the country.

Goodale said the strategy recognizes that technology is “increasingly facilitating the easy borderless access to vast volumes of abhorrent images.”

That, he said, makes investigations increasingly complex,

“This is a race where the course is always getting longer and more complicated and advancing into brand new areas that hadn’t been anticipated five years ago or a year ago or even a week ago,” Goodale said.

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Gas prices expected to dip in Ottawa

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If you can wait an extra day to fill up the gas tank, your bank account might thank you.

Roger McKnight of Enpro is predicting a five cent dip in gas prices Wednesday night at midnight.

This comes after a four cent drop this past Friday, just ahead of the August long weekend.

McKnight said the reason for the drop, both last week and this week, is due to comments made by US President Donald Trump. 

He says after the drop, the price will be, on average, 118.9 cents/litre in the Ottawa region.

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Oka asks Ottawa to freeze Mohawk land deal, send RCMP to Kanesatake

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The town of Oka is asking the federal and provincial governments to slap a moratorium on a proposed land grant to the local Mohawk community in Kanesatake and to establish an RCMP detachment on the First Nations territory to deal with illegal cannabis sales outlets.

The requests were contained in two resolutions adopted Tuesday night by the Oka town council.

The administration of Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon held its first public meeting since the start of the controversy that pitted the town council against the Kanesatake band council over a decision by a local promoter to give local lands to the Mohawk community.

The three resolutions are addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, Quebec Premier François Legault’s government and the Kanesatake band council led by Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon.

As each resolution was read into the record, Quevillon stressed that the town of Oka was only looking to live in peaceful cohabitation with the Mohawk community.

The town also called upon Ottawa to establish a consultation process that would take into account the concerns of residents in Oka and  Kanesatake.

Quevillon’s administration also wants access to the plans detailing what lands are at the centre of negotiations between the federal government and the Mohawk community for purchase, suggesting the talks are simply a disguised form of expropriation.

“They’re giving money to (the Mohawks) to buy our land and annex it to their territory,” Quevillon said.

Despite its demands, the Oka council adopted an official statement addressed to the Kanesatake band council saying the town’s population wanted dialogue and peaceful cohabitation, with Quevillon citing the 300 years of close links between the two communities.

During the council meeting’s question period, some residents suggested that the council deal with other groups that say they are speaking for Kanesatake, including Mohawk traditionalists. Mayor Quevillon replied that the town would only deal with the band council and did so out of respect for Grand Chief Simon.

The mayor also argued that the RCMP, a federal police force, was best suited to be deployed in Kanesatake, where it would ensure the law would be respected, particularly on the issue of illegal cannabis shops.

Quevillon contended such a deployment was the only way for both communities to work together toward their mutual economic development.

Meanwhile, the apology Grand Chief Simon has said he is expecting from Quevillon for remarks he made earlier this summer about the Mohawk community in Kanesatake does not appear to be coming any time soon.

Asked by a resident if he would apologize, Quevillon left the answer to those citizens who attended the meeting, the vast majority of whom replied, “no.”

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