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Syria rejects report of systematic torture and killing

Source: Reuters - Wed, 22 Jan 2014 10:53 GMT
Author: Reuters
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A man walks along a deserted street in Deir al-Zor April 8, 2013. Picture taken April 8, 2013. REUTERS/ Khalil Ashawi
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BEIRUT, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Syria on Wednesday rejected a report purporting to show the systematic torture and killing of about 11,000 detainees, calling it an attempt to undermine peace efforts as diplomats gathered in Switzerland for talks.

The 31-page report released on Monday contains 55,000 images of emaciated and mutilated corpses. Bearing signs of torture, some of the corpses had no eyes. Others showed signs of strangulation or electrocution.

The images were supplied by a Syrian military defector who had worked as a military police photographer for 13 years. His identity has not been released to the media.

Former war crimes prosecutors who authored the report said Syrian officials could face war crimes charges as a result of the evidence, which they said evoked images of Nazi death camps.

But Syria's Ministry of Justice said the report was "politicised" and "lacking objectivity and professionalism".

"Releasing the report one day before the 'Geneva 2' conference provides categorical evidence that its goal ... is to undermine efforts aimed at achieving peace in Syria," the ministry said in a statement carried on Syrian state television.

The broadcast went out while Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Jarba was speaking at the opening day of the "Geneva 2" peace conference in Switzerland.

At one point, Jarba made reference to the report and held up a photograph of an alleged torture victim.

Reuters has read the report but it was not possible to determine the authenticity of the images or to contact the photographer.

Syria's civil war began with peaceful protests against 40 years of rule by the family of President Bashar al-Assad and has descended into a sectarian conflict, with the opposing sides armed and funded by Sunni Arab states and Shi'ite Iran. 

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