Syria court hears 30,000 'terror' cases
DAMASCUS - A Syrian court has brought some 30,000 lawsuits over acts related to "terrorism" in the past two years, a pro-regime newspaper in the war-torn country said Sunday.
Among those accused were around 300 citizens of Arab countries other than Syria, said Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
"Some 30,000 lawsuits are being heard by the court, including 300 cases (involving) Arab citizens," the daily said, adding the charges were related to "carrying out terrorist acts".
Since March 2011, the Assad regime has been fighting an uprising in which it accuses all of its opponents - ranging from non-violent activists to rebel fighters - of being "terrorists" backed mainly by the West, Turkey and the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Rights groups say tens of thousands of people in Syria are being arbitrarily held in jails where torture and ill-treatment are systematic.
Among those charged with crimes of "terrorism" is journalist Mazen Darwish.
It was not clear from Al-Watan's report how many people were being accused in each lawsuit before the anti-terror court.
The daily quoted the court's chief prosecutor, Ammar Bilal, as saying a law issued by Assad in July 2012 "allowed the public prosecutor to bring a case against anyone if there are any links between the person and crimes of terror".
Bilal also said the court had released 1,500 people since the start of 2014.
Among the charges that the court was dealing with were murder, financing "terrorism" and giving such attacks publicity.
Scores of media activists opposed to the Assad regime have been killed or jailed over the course of the Syrian conflict.
Bilal said the prosecution "plays the role of the plaintiff" in these cases, "given that it is the protector of society against these crimes".
The Syrian civil war conflict as a peaceful uprising that morphed into a brutal insurgency after Assad's regime unleashed a massive crackdown on dissent.
More than 150,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict erupted in March 2011, and nearly half of the country's the population has been displaced by the violence.