The British wife of Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad faces possible charges of terrorism and the loss of her British citizenship after the metropolitan police opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that she has incited, aided and encouraged war crimes by the Syrian government forces.
Asma al-Assad, 45, who was born and educated in London before becoming Syria’s first lady in 2000, is being investigated in response to legal complaints alleging that her speeches and public appearances in support of the Syrian army la they implicate in their crimes, including the use of chemical weapons.
Ten years after the civil war in Syria, the country’s military has been accused of deliberately targeting civilians, using hunger as a weapon of war and subjecting the population to rape and sexual violence, among other violations of international humanitarian law.
Two UN commissions have concluded that the regime has repeatedly deployed chemical weapons against civilians.
The Guardian understands that the Met’s war crimes unit launched the investigation against Asma al-Assad earlier this year and is determining whether there is sufficient evidence to launch a full investigation.
The former New York investment banker and daughter of a Harley Street cardiologist, who has already been the subject of financial sanctions from the UK, US and EU, could be stripped of her British citizenship and subject to an international arrest warrant if the investigation continues.
A King’s College graduate of French literature and computer science, Assad was for years the glamorous face of a regime that claimed to be modernizing Syria after decades of repressive rule.
When protests broke out in 2011 and Syrian troops began killing protesters, the woman nicknamed the “desert rose” on a Vogue cover avoided several offers to flee Damascus with her children and staunchly supported the government’s brutal response to the lifting.
Legal documents filed by Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers cite speeches in which Assad praises the mothers of the slain Syrian soldiers and cites images of his warm welcome to the female troops. They point to interviews in which she claims to be supporting her husband out of personal conviction and soldiers glorified for defending the homeland.
“The evidence collected, in our opinion, legally speaking, far exceeds what can be considered a reasonable comment or mere propaganda and amounts to the incitement, encouragement and / or aid and complicity of war crimes and crimes against humanity,” he said. Toby Cadman, the Joint Chief of Chambers of Guernica 37.
“Because the investigation is ongoing and it is not desired to affect the integrity of the process and the duty to give the first lady a fair trial once charged is respected, it would not be appropriate to comment on specific evidence except to confirm that it comes from various sources and, in our opinion, it is strong enough to warrant the filing of criminal charges. “
The complaints allege that since the death of Bashar al-Assad’s mother in 2016, his wife has amassed growing political influence in the shattered country, which is largely pacified but in the grip of a severe economic crisis.
Assad was treated for breast cancer in 2018 and recovered and announced last week that she and her husband had contracted mild Covid-19. The United States imposed sanctions against her in 2020 claiming that she, her parents and siblings had become some of Syria’s “most notorious war profiteers”.
The Met has been contacted for comment.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism