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Syrian doctor arrested in Germany for 'crimes against humanity'

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A Syrian doctor living in Germany has been arrested on suspicion of carrying out crimes against humanity at a prison in his war-torn country of origin, prosecutors said Monday.

The suspect, identified as Alaa M., is accused of having "tortured a detainee ... in at least two cases" at a prison run by Syrian intelligence services in the city of Homs in 2011, said German federal prosecutors in a statement.

Alaa M. was called to the assistance of a man who had suffered an epileptic fit after being detained for taking part in a protest, the statement said.

He then proceeded to beat the man with a plastic pipe. "Even after he had gone down, Alaa M. continued the beatings and additionally kicked the victim," the statement said.

The next day, Alaa M. and another doctor are said to have subjected the victim to further beatings. He later died, though the cause of death is unclear.

Alaa M. left Syria in mid-2015 and moved to Germany, where he also practised as a doctor.

Syria's civil war, which started with the brutal repression of anti-government protests, has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced nearly half the country's pre-conflict population.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group estimates that at least 100,000 people have died from torture or as a result of horrific conditions in government prisons.

In April, the first court case worldwide over state-sponsored torture by Bashar al-Assad's regime opened in Germany.

The two defendants are being tried on the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows a foreign country to prosecute crimes against humanity.

Germany has taken in more than 700,000 Syrian refugees since the start of the conflict.

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