Last updated: 1 September, 2011

Syria attorney general says he has resigned

The attorney general of the central Syrian province of Hama said he has resigned to protest hundreds of killings and thousands of arrests by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, after the state agency said the official was kidnapped.

“I, the attorney general of the province of Hama, Mohammed Adnan al-Bakkour, announce my resignation from the regime of Assad and his band,” he said in a video posted on YouTube late Wednesday.

He said he took the decision after hundreds of jailed peaceful demonstrators were killed by the authorities and buried in mass graves, and 10,000 were arrested arbitrarily.

The United Nations says that more than 2,200 people have been killed since the beginning of near-daily popular protests against Assad’s regime in mid-March.

But the official SANA news agency, which reported Monday that Bakkour had been kidnapped en route to work, quoted officials as saying his statement had been made under duress.

It quoted Hama governor, Anas Naeem, as saying that “Bakkour was forced by his captors to give false information… showing the liquidation of citizens in Hama in the context of a media campaign against Syria.”

It quoted another official as saying that Bakkour’s words “were extracted under armed threat,” calling them “pure lies fabricated by armed terrorist gangs involved in his abduction.”

SANA reported Monday that Bakkour had been abducted on the way to work, together with his driver and bodyguard.

In his video statement, Bakkour said he resigned after witnessing several crimes committed by the regime.

He cited a July 31 killing of 72 prisoners, including peaceful demonstrators and activists, at Hama’s central prison.

He added he was forced to issue a report saying that more than 420 people buried in mass graves by security forces and regime militias had been killed by armed gangs.

Bakkour also cited the deaths of about 320 people under torture at police stations, “the arbitrary arrest of about 10,000 people,” and the demolition of homes by the army while occupants were still inside.

In the latest violence, Syrian security forces made arrests and deployed tanks Wednesday at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, during which 473 people were killed, activists said.

Western powers have turned up the heat on Syria’s regime, slapping sanctions and saying Assad must resign.