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The Crime of Writing

Zouhair Ghazzal

Cases by Chapter

Texte intégral

Case number Location and date of crime scene Synopsis
1. Law, crime and the economy
1–1 Damascus, October 1972 A merchant had his properties confiscated for allegedly violating the economic socialist laws of the nation.
1–2 Damascus, 1982 Lawsuit against the mayor of Damascus for the recuperation of a confiscated property.
1–3 Aleppo, September 1995 Muḥammad Kallās, one of the big “credit collectors” of Aleppo, in the aftermath of Investment Law no. 10 (1991), was accused of fraud and imprisoned, and had his properties transformed into “public shared holdings.”
2. Evidence
2–1 Aleppo, October 1993 Husband who allegedly burned his wife to death.
3. Insanity and responsibility
3–1 Idlib province, 12 March 1994 Shepherd shot to death three other shepherds, one of them a woman, for trespassing over his land; on April 2000 the Idlib Jināyāt sentenced the accused for 20 years with hard labor, after a plea for insanity failed.
3–2 Ḥamā, August 1979 Old man stabbed to death in a mosque; the accused’s counsel pleas for insanity; even though the accused was convicted on October 1984 of premeditated murder, his sentence was reduced to three years with hard labor.
4. Autobiography
4–1 Aleppo, 28 August 1987 Wife accused of murdering her husband to conceal an affair she was having with another man; wife accused of manslaughter in 1994.
4–2 Aleppo, December 1996 Father arrested for having for a couple of years locked his teenage daughter into the bathroom. Father addressed the judge in a personal letter from his prison cell.
5. Death penalty
5–1 Aleppo, 25 October 2007 Public executions of five young men in Bāb al-Faraj who were allegedly “gang” related and who had committed a string of murders and thefts in the summer.
5–2 Aleppo province, 29 March 1994 Man accused of escorting a girl on his motorbike to a barren terrain outside town, committing an indecent sexual act, prior to killing her. He was executed in Aleppo’s prison yard in July 2002, following a Jināyāt conviction that recommended the death penalty on August 1995.
5–3 Minbij, Aleppo province, 13 January 1998 A young man murders an old man to steal his motorbike, gets arrested a week later on charges of premeditated murder.
5–4 Aleppo, August 2, 1991 Three policemen accused of torturing an alleged drug addict to death, leading to an unprecedented trial in the annals of Syrian law.
5–5 Idlib province, April 1983 Woman accused of conspiring to murder her husband, with the brother doing the killing; verdict in 1994 recommended the death penalty, which was dutifully approved by a presidential decree in 2003.
6. Honor
6–1 Aleppo, 13 June 1995 Brother murders his sister in an honor crime, gives himself up to the police; imprisoned for one year.
6–2 Aleppo, 20 April 1994 Husband murders wife in an honor killing; verdict on March 1995 sets the accused free on April 1995 amid one-year imprisonment.
6–3 Idlib province, July 1988 Defendant arrested on September 1988; alleged that victim seduced his wife, hence claiming an honor crime, which was rebuffed by court, opting instead for the death penalty on June 1998; Naqḍ ruling on April 1999 revoked Jināyāt sentencing.
6–4 Aleppo province, June 1995 Mother alleges she was raped by her own son. The Jināyāt ruling in June 1996, based on that of the referral judge, sentenced the defendant to ten years with forced labor according to article 489 of the penal law.
6–5 Idlib province, 3 November 1997 Farmer alleged that a group of three men knocked at his door late at night, stole some belongings, prior to raping his daughter. Final ruling on December 1999 cleared all three defendants from any wrongdoing for lack of evidence.
7. Kin wars of castrated egos
7–1 Idlib 2000 When ruling over a case that involved multiple killings from the same clan in the 1990s, the Jināyāt manifested its appreciation of the logic behind the honor killings in such environments.
7–2 Danā, Idlib, February 1995 An 18-year old boy shot to death a cousin of his in retaliation for the shooting of his own brother a couple of years earlier.
7–3 Jisr al-Shughūr, Idlib, June 1989 A shooting incident in which the defendant claimed to have acted in self-defense against the grotesque intrusions of his rival, both of which belong to families with ongoing feuds.
7–4 Sarāqib, Idlib, December 2001 An innocent van driver was targeted by a rival clan in retaliation for a death of theirs by the driver’s elders.
7–5 Idlib province, 1995 A married law student at Aleppo University in his early twenties was shot to death in 1995 by cousins of his in retaliation for another killing; Idlib Jināyāt convicted the killer in 2000 for manslaughter and 15 years with hard labor.
7–6 Muʿarra, Idlib, 1999 Inṣāf, the youngest of Aḥmad Ziyādī’s three wives, was from day one the main suspect for killing her elderly ḍ (husband’s other wife) in Muʿarra (province of Idlib) in 1999.
8. Parricides
8–1 Aleppo, August 1995 Daughter murders her mother after she burned down her own home. Letter to cousin from prison.
8–2 Aleppo, July 1994 Young man seduces a six-year old boy, sodomizes him, leading to the boy’s death. Manslaughter verdict appealed.
8–3 Idlib province, July 1998 Man kills his ex-wife and other family members in a revenge rampage for the ex-wife’s new engagement.
8–4 Khān Shaykhūn, Idlib, 2 April 1993 Wife and her lover plot to kill husband in order to satisfy an ongoing sexual lust between the two. Court rules for both to receive the death penalty.
9. Land
9–1 Aleppo province, 24 May 1995 A big landowner and lawyer was murdered by one of his tenant-farmers; court punished the offender with a manslaughter verdict.
9–2 Armanāz, Idlib province, 6 May 1988 A university student on a visit to his parents on a weekend “unintentionally” kills a man for trespassing on his family’s properties; the Idlib Jināyāt vindicated the defendant of any wrongdoing on December 1990, a year and a half after the killing.
9–3 Aleppo province, 18 March 1990 An inter-family feud where a young man shoots his uncle for trespassing over his father’s land; the court on April 1996 punished the offender with three years of incarceration.
9–4 Aleppo, 9 July 1990 Attempted murder of a Kurdish lawyer when he was on his way to his work at the Palace of Justice; three of the accused were sentenced in 1998 for 15 years and a million liras in compensation.
10. Photoshopping: men at work
10–1 Aleppo, November 1996 Man arrested for forging official documents and selling them to individuals; Jināyāt ruling on January 1998 convicting the defendant of forgery.
10–2 Aleppo, May 1989 A group of 10 unrelated alleged drug addicts caught for theft and trafficking.

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