He couldn't comprehend why they let him go, but all of it came to an end, abruptly. Later he found out that he might have been released in a prisoner swap mediated through the elders of Homs. The rebels had released two Russians weeks before, in exchange for rebels and their supporters who were still alive in captivity.

He walked to Lebanon with his family among hordes of others seeking safety and now lives in a refugee camp in the Bekaa Valley.

Five years later, the wounds have healed but the scars are still visible, evidence of the crimes committed against his body. He was, he says, robbed with impunity of any semblance of dignity. There is no apparent route to trial for his perpetrators. Russia and China have vetoed a UN move to refer the Syrian regime to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Mizyed and children at the entrance to their shelter in a Lebanese refugee camp, Bekaa Valley (photo: DW/A. Vohra)
No faith in international justice: Mizyed doubts that any of the perpetrators will ever have to pay for their crimes. The chance of that happening, he says, has been lost for good. "They [the West] could have taken out Assad if they had wanted, but they didn't care," he said, flicking away his cigarette ash

Germany issues arrest warrant

In an unusual step, Germany reportedly issued an arrest warrant in June against Jamil Hassan, claiming universal jurisdiction. According to international law, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity can be prosecuted anywhere, no matter where the acts were committed.

For Mizyed, though, it is a pointless gesture. "They won't get anywhere," he said. "Can they go to Syria and arrest Hassan or Assad?"

Mizyed doubts that any of the perpetrators will ever have to pay for their crimes. The chance of that happening, he says, has been lost for good.

"They [the West] could have taken out Assad if they had wanted, but they didn't care," he said, flicking away his cigarette ash.

Anchal Vohra

© Deutsche Welle 2018

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