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The listeners who support this NPR station it's morning edition from NPR news I'm Steve Inskeep and I'm no well king good morning an unprecedented trial resumed this week in Germany two men are on trial there former Syrian officials who are part of president Bashar al-assad's regime they got to Germany with a wave of refugees and claimed asylum there and then last year it's already started looking into who these men were and arrested them on charges of committing crimes against humanity during Syria's civil war NPR's Deborah Amos is cover that were for years and she's been following this trial very closely good morning to good morning what's happened in the trial so far so there's a big idea here and that's an international war crimes trial in the national court and those aren't on trial aren't German citizens their Syrians so for the first time former Syrian officials are confronted by Syrian torture victims in person in court one is a former colonel the other is a check point guard when the indictment was read in court the victim's heard a summary of their testimony one horrible crime after the other says German attorney Patrick Croker who represents some of them there were very emotional reactions I was sitting in front of our clients I checked every once in a while I saw that they were yeah I'm finding it difficult but in the end they were really happy that they were there it made us all aware again off what is actually at stake here now the main defendant and more research long he's in his late fifties was in charge of an interrogation unit out of prison on his branch to fifty one out ridge line gave his first statement to the court this week it was read by his lawyer he denies all the charges he said it there were criminals the took over his prison they ignored his complaints about brutal treatment essentially it wasn't me and the defense strategy is you're going to have to prove it and this trial is expected to take more than a year more than a year what is the evidence against this man rests on there's quite a lot there's the two Roger survivors more than a dozen testimony from German immigration officials who said arriving refugees told them about wrestling on at this notorious branch two fifty one there are official documents smuggled out of Syria that show that he signed his name to official reports that went up the chain of command now those documents do not explicitly mentioned torture according to sources who've seen that evidence the outside regime has always long denied charges of torture in Syria these two Syrian men are foreigners in Germany but of course there are lots of Syrian refugees there around eight hundred thousand people who fled the civil war how is that community in exile responding to the trial of these two men so Syrian activists in Germany are trying to get the details out to their community a German trial it is translated by they are trying to get it out in Arabic one of them is waffle Stafa an activist she was speaking at a zoom conference call in Berlin this week her father is still detained she hoped the trial would speed his release so she knows it's a painful process of managing expectations we've been demanding justice for years but now we are being introduced to just change the fate the trial gave us hope it gave me hope and it gave them an idea of patients for a second I I definitely thought so but then I also told myself back definitely it's needed to have hope but it also needed to have patience I myself might not be the day that's just that's what gets you can carry on it is finding enough that I know that someone will and also satisfying she said it's the first time the victims have a voice in seeking justice NPR's Deborah Amos thank you.

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