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[Update] Syria ‘smoking gun’ report warrants a careful read – CS Monitor Tears Apart Qatar Funded Torture Report.

This report was funded by the Government of Qatar who gave a contract to the London law firm Carter-Ruck & Co. I read the report, I did not find any mention the funding by Qatar. The London law firm has represented the State of Qatar on numerous occasions. The firm also represented the late Russian oligarch Berezovsky.

    Wikipedia: Carter-Ruck – The Libel Reform Campaign

    The Libel Reform Campaign cite many instances where the application of the libel laws by Law Firms like Carter-Ruck is effectively gagging the freedom of expression and free speech in the England and Wales leaving only the wealthy anywhere in the world able to seek justice in the UK where it would be denied in their own country. The most recent example of Carter-Ruck acting on behalf of a client to stifle criticism was reported in the Guardian newspaper on 19 January 2011. Carter-Ruck on behalf of Midland Pig Producers issued a warning letter to the Soil Association threatening libel proceedings after the SA objected to a MPP planning application. Threatening such proceedings, which are rarely followed through, is a typical modus operandi of Carter-Ruck (and other law firms) to minimise scrutiny and adverse publicity of their clients.

I saw three “prominent” members of international fame in an interview by Amanpour on CNN.

Exclusive: Gruesome Syria photos may prove torture by Assad regime

(CNN – Amanpour) – A team of internationally renowned war crimes prosecutors and forensic experts has found “direct evidence” of “systematic torture and killing” by the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the lawyers on the team say in a new report.

Their report, based on thousands of photographs of dead bodies of alleged detainees killed in Syrian government custody, would stand up in an international criminal tribunal, the group says.

CNN’s “Amanpour” was given the report in a joint exclusive with The Guardian newspaper.

“This is a smoking gun,” said David Crane, one of the report’s authors. “Any prosecutor would like this kind of evidence — the photos and the process. This is direct evidence of the regime’s killing machine.”

Continued below the fold with Syria War Crimes Report …

Confidential Report into the credibility of certain evidence with regard to Torture and Executions of Persons incarcerated by the current Syrian regime

The members of the inquiry team travelled to the Middle East from the United Kingdom and the United States of America to discharge a mandate given to them by the firm Carter-Ruck & Co. in the City of London.

The information available to the legal team prior to its arrival in the Middle East was that there was a defector from Syria who was then in a third country. Prior to his defection he had been in the military police. The legal team was further informed that there were some fifty-five thousand (55,000) photographic images of some eleven thousand (11,000) detained persons who had been tortured and killed by agents of the current Syrian regime since the beginning of the uprising against the Assad regime in March 2011.

It was also the understanding of the inquiry team that this defector had supplied thousands of photographic images of executed persons by making copies of the photographic images on a “flash drive” (memory stick.

The mandate entrusted to the inquiry team was to question this defector and to establish whwther he was a truthful and credible witness.

The interviewing of the defector, who was codenamed “Caesar” for his own protection, took place on the 12th, 13th, and 18th January 2014.

This report is making headlines as the Geneva II Conference is about to convene tomorrow in Montreux, Switzerland. For Public Relations of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the report is also a distraction to this news item on the back-pages of newspapers – Qatar-linked charities ‘gave millions to Al Qaida’ – US. It made me feel uncomfortable to read another one-sided story about the sectarian/civil war in Syria, spreading across the borders into Lebanon and Iraq. At Juan Cole’s Informed Comment, the following headline … [He must be more certain of the facts than the panel members of the inquiry who authored the report!]

Massive War Crimes: Syrian Regime Tortured, Starved, Murdered 11,000 Prisoners

“Caesar” did not see the torture or executions himself, but photographed the bodies afterward. The report explains, “The reason for photographing executed persons was twofold: First to permit a death certificate to be produced without families requiring to see the body thereby avoiding the authorities having to give a truthful account of their deaths; second to confirm that orders to execute individuals had been carried out.”

That is to say, the Baath officials who ordered these 11,000 executions of prisoners of war were afraid that prison guards would take bribes to release the prisoners and just report them dead. The photographs were to prove to their superiors that they had actually followed through and polished the prisoner off. They were an anti-fraud measure.

The authors find that this bureaucratic rationale for the photographing, and the sophisticated numbering system used to keep track of the bodies, are strong evidence on the face of it that the regime ordered the deaths. Likewise, the assembly-line character of the photography work, with 50 bodies a day recorded, points to a systematic regime practice.

They write, “In the view of the inquiry team the need to photograph those who were killed is a strong pointer to the fact that the killings were systematic, ordered, and directed from above.”

My rebuttal @Informed Comment is awaiting publication due to moderation.

Curveball, I meant to say “Caesar” was interviewed just a few days ago. Of course the Assad regime is liable for war crimes, this report is timely and suspicious. Commissioned by London law firm Carter-Ruck with funds from the State of Qatar. To be clear, the three persons of the inquiry team are former prosecutors in special tribunals. David Crane now runs a consulting firm called CW Group International, recently used its expertise on behalf of the government of Guinea’s former military leader, Moussa Dadis Camara. Geraldine Finucane, the widow of the murdered lawyer, watched the debate on Sir Desmond de Silva’s report and called it a ‘sham’ – see The Guardian. Sir Geoffrey Nice, a supporter of the Human Rights Commission of the British Conservative Party, played a role in the  Iran Tribunal. The support for the tribunal fell apart when its neutrality was questioned and the organisers were exposed linked to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

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