Middle East

Syria says torture report 'politicised,' photos 'fake'

A screen grab from a page of a report commissioned by a leading firm of London solicitors acting for Qatar and provided to Reuters January 21, 2013 shows an undated photograph, taken by a former Syrian military police photographer who has since defected. The photo purports to show the dead body of a detainee killed while in the custody of the Syrian government. REUTERS/The Report/Handout via Reuters

DAMASCUS: Syria's justice ministry on Wednesday dismissed a report alleging mass torture and killing by the country's regime as "politicised" calling the shocking photos in the document "fake".

"The justice ministry completely denies the veracity of the report," Syrian state news agency SANA quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.

"It is a politicised report that lacks objectivity and professionalism," the ministry said.

The comments came in response to the publication of a report alleging the "industrial-scale" torture and murder of 11,000 detainees by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The report put together by a British law firm and commissioned by Qatar -- which backs the Syrian rebels -- says there is "clear evidence" of the starvation, strangulation and beating of detainees in Syrian prison.

It is based on forensic analysis of a portion of 55,000 digital images smuggled out of Syria by a defector who served as a police photographer, documenting as many as 50 bodies a day.

The photos in the report are gruesome, showing emaciated and seriously injured detainees.

Three investigators hired by the law firm to examine the evidence said the photos were reminiscent of the World War II Nazi death camps.

But Syria's justice ministry dismissed the photographic evidence as false.

"Anyone who works in the field of criminal investigation can tell that these photos are fakes and bear no relation to prisoners or detainees in Syrian prisons," the ministry said.

The statement said some of those in the photos were "foreign terrorists" killed during attacks on government forces, and others had been killed or tortured to death by "armed terrorist groups".

The Syrian regime terms all those seeking Assad's ouster "terrorists".

"Syrian prisons... are in accordance with internationally recognised best standards of justice," the statement added.

The ministry said the report, which was released two days before the start of Syrian peace talks in the Swiss town of Montreux, was intended "to undermine efforts to bring peace to Syria".






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