MOSCOW: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cannot be declared a criminal a priori, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.
“We cannot say that Assad is a criminal without investigation. Assad is the current president and he cannot be ignored or disregarded. The situation in the country is very difficult and complex,” he said when asked about Assad’s possible responsibility for crimes in Syria. “Such circumstances are subject to be clarified.”
He noted that when he was studying law at university (the Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, State University) he had been taught that “until the fact of guilt is proved in court, a person cannot be claimed guilty.” “That is the presumption of innocence. And it should be extended to all the people, simple people and leaders. If the international court created, by the U.N. maybe or by any other institution, proves the fact of committing international crimes, then the regime and separate leaders can be claimed responsible,” he said. “But in other case, it’s just a set of speculations.”
“I know there are a lot of victims, and that’s very sad, but that does not mean that the existence of victims or victims in a particular place is the proof that those are the victims of the regime and not the bandits who were doing something or any other force,” he went on to say. ”We understand that the situation on the territory of Syria, unfortunately for Syria itself, is being controlled by a set of organized groups. They control the regime in Syria.”
Medvedev confirmed he had seen “different pictures” [of victims of the civil war in Syria]. “I repeat, all those crimes – and these are crimes, of course – should be, should have firm proofs legally. And those proofs can be given to the authorities or to their opponents. But this has to be proven legally and it should be used in the preset legal process,” he stressed. “We can’t judge the Syrian regime or Assad or any of his partners or even the representatives of the so-called opposition forces only because it seems to us they committed it. We need to have the full protocol of the crimes, create the database of proof and use it for the future. But it is very important to stop that for the future.”
He once again drew attention to the fact that there was a civil war in Syria and the blame for it rested on all the force that existed in that country. “I do not idealize President Assad,” he noted. “Me and President Putin, mentioned and said that Assad is not one of our strategic partners. Assad was the friend from – of our colleagues from Europe. PNA