Amnesty International yesterday accused Syria of torturing political prisoners, holding them for long periods without trial and abducting suspected political opponents from neighboring Lebanon.
The London-based human rights organization made the allegations in a 16-page report on Syria. It said that torture, "commonly employed in detention centers and military prisons" during interrogations, caused nine deaths between 1975 and 1977.
The report also said that more than 30 executions have been carried out during the past two years in cases involving sabotage, murder and membership in armed gangs.
"The great majority of political prisoners in Syria are detained without trial under emergency legislation," Amnesty International said. "The duration of such detention is frequently prolonged." The emergency legislation has been in force for more than a decade.
Amnesty estimated that the number of untried political prisoners totals at least 350 at any one time and on occasions increases to nearly 1,000. It said some detainees have been held without trial for more than eight years.
The report said that when political cases went to trail , the proceedings "were routinely held in secret, thereby denying prisoners the right to a fair trial and open hearing."
Amnesty said persons detained for political opposition included members of the fundamentalist Moslem Brotherhood, dissidents within the ruling Baath Party, supporters of the late Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, Marxists, Kurds and Palestinians.
In addition, the report said, "a large number of people have been arrested in Lebanon by members of the Syrian security or armed forces and detained in Syria without trial." It said they include Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians who have criticized the Syrian government of President Hafez Assad, active participants in the 1975-76 Lebanse civil war and partisans of various factions in Lebanon.