Following the release of thousands of ‘tortured’ photographs from a Syrian defector earlier this month, the country’s Justice Minister has jumped to the defence of the Syrian regime, claiming the pictures are ‘fake’.
On Wednesday, the Justice Ministry issued a statement on the state news agency SANA which denied all allegations published in the latest report which claimed thousands of detainees in government custody had been tortured and killed.
The statement on SANA called the report ‘politicized and lacking in objectivity and professionalism’ and said some of the photos are of ‘foreign terrorists’, adding that any ‘expert’: “could easily find out that these pictures are fake and that they have no relation to prisoners or detainees in Syrian prisons.”
The report had been compiled by a team of international legal and forensic experts who had examined the photographs issued to them by a Syrian defector, claiming to have previously worked as a military hospital photographer, where dead bodies arrived from detention centres.
The experts concluded that the bodies in the photos were clear examples of ‘systematic torture and killing’ of detainees by the al-Assad regime. The corpses showed signs of starvation, strangulation, brutal beatings, and other sorts of torture according to the report.
Funding for the report was received from the Qatar government who, alongside Saudi Arabia, are the main supporters of Syrian Rebel forces.
Further added in the report, was the opinion that ‘civilians and military personnel were killed as a result of torture by armed terrorist groups because they were accused of being pro-state’.
In response, Syria’s Justice Minister reiterated his belief that the photographs were fake, describing the photographer as ‘a fugitive who fled Syria and who was already facing legal action’, asking how he would have got the necessary documents to leave the country.
The Ministry also suggest the timing of the publication of the photographs reveal their ‘true purpose’ of undermining the ongoing peace talks in Geneva.
The official statement added that the report ‘aims to undermine the efforts to bring peace in Syria and put an end to the international sponsored terrorism in the country’.