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28 Jun 2019

Rebecca Staudenmaier, Deutsche Welle (Allemagne)

NGOs file criminal charges over chemical exports to Syria by German companies that could be used to make sarin gas

"German firms sent weapons-grade chemicals to Syria despite sanctions — report", 25 Jun 2019

 Despite European Union sanctions, German companies were involved in exporting weapons-grade chemicals to Syria in the midst of the war, according to a report published on Tuesday...

According to the report, German chemical wholesaler Brenntag AG sold the chemicals isopropanol and diethylamine to Syria in 2014 using a subsidiary in Switzerland. The recipient was a Syrian pharmaceutical company that had ties to the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Reporters revealed that the diethylamine was produced by German chemicals giant BASF at a plant in the Belgian city of Antwerp. The isopropanol was made by Sasol Solvents Germany GmbH, located in Hamburg.

Although the chemicals can be used to make pharmaceutical drugs, they can also be used in the production of chemical weapons and nerve agents such as VX and sarin gas.

Sarin gas, in particular, has been used in attacks carried out by the Assad regime during the war...

Brenntag AG confirmed that the delivery of the chemicals to Syria was handled by its subsidiary in Switzerland "in accordance with the laws at the time,"...

Prosecutors in the western German city of Essen, where Brenntag AG is located, said they have initiated legal proceedings and are probing whether to open a formal investigation. Prosecutors in Belgium are also looking into the case.

Three NGOs have already filed criminal charges over the chemical exports, including the Berlin-based Syrian Archive, the Switzerland-based organization Trial International, and the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative...