Paris: Syria`s government could face its first European war crimes probe after two human rights groups filed a complaint in a specialised Paris court over two missing Franco-Syrian nationals.
The International Federation for Human Rights and the Human Rights League lodged a complaint against persons unknown at the war crimes division of the Paris High Court.
If the court takes up the case it could lead to the first-ever appointment of an investigating magistrate into the actions of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad`s regime.
Also party to the complaint, which was filed Monday, was Obeida Dabbagh, who is the brother of a missing Franco-Syrian national arrested in Syria in 2013 and the uncle of the other.
The lawsuit makes allegations of "forced disappearances," "torture," and "crimes against humanity," according to Clemence Bectarte, the lawyer coordinating the legal action.
It focuses on Mazzen Dabbagh, 57, and his 22-year-old son Patrick, who were detained by officers who identified themselves as members of Syria`s feared air force intelligence service.
After being transferred to a Damascus military prison widely thought to be a torture centre, the pair were never seen again.
Under the principle of universal jurisdiction, the war crimes unit is empowered to investigate crimes anywhere in the world as long as victims have French nationality or suspects are present on French soil.
"Up to now, some courts, notably in Sweden, Germany, Britain and Austria, have taken up crimes committed in Syria but these investigations and prosecutions did not involve crimes attributed to Bashar al-Assad`s regime," she told AFP.
The lawyer conceded the chances of the case reaching trial were slim but added, "the court could shed light for the family on the fate of their loved ones, say that a crime against humanity has been committed and recognise individual responsibilities."