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Syria: Ziad Ramadan senterced 6 years
Syria: Ziad Ramadan sentenced to 6 years, despite UN opinion calling for his release
23 February 2011

Ziad Ramadan, the 35 year old Syrian detained by the authorities as a "key witness" in the investigation of the assassination of Hariri, was sentenced to 6 years on Monday in a trial which seriously violates international legal norms. This sentence comes despite the United Nation's call for the Syrian authorities to "immediately release Mr. Ramadan and accord him reparation".
In a response to the UN in August 2010, the Syrian government stated that Mr Ramadan had being held since his arrest on 20 July 2005 because he was a "key witness" in the Hariri Investigations and that he was detained for his own protection. It is therefore incomprehensible why Mr Ramadan has now been sentenced to 6 years by the State Security Court in Damascus.

Mr. Ramadan's trial failed to respect international norms as laid out in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights: the court he was tried by is widely seen as violating the independence of the judiciary as many of the judges are military officers; he was tried behind closed doors and was not given the possibility of preparing his defence. Furthermore, he has not been allowed access to his family for several months now, which means it is still not known what charges have been laid against him and what crimes he is accused of having committed.

Ziad Ramadan was detained for 5 years and 5 months in the Palestine Branch of Damascus Prison without any trial or even been presented before a judge. The 6 year sentence pronounced on 21 February 2011 only serves to legitimise this detention, and means that he should be released on 20 July 2011.

Alkarama will follow this case with the United Nations special procedures, especially in view of the refusal of the Syrian authorities to respect Opinion 24/2010 of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Alkarama continues to call for the immediate release of Mr Ramadan.