The Murder of Sakher Hallak by the Syrian Security Apparatus
The chronology of events:
• After visiting the USA to attend a medical conference, Dr. Sakher Hallak was arrested by the Syrian secret police, the Mukhabarat, on Wednesday, May 25, 2011, on his way home from work, at 11:30 at night.
• On Thursday, May 26, his wife called a person she knew, a relative who worked in the Syrian Congress, named Adnan Alsokhneh. He assured her that the Mukhabarat had him, and that he will ensure that he is released soon.
• On Thursday, Sakher’s office manager/nurse contacted one of his patients who has connections in Damascus. He told her that someone form the intelligence service wrote up something against Sakher, and that he was in deep trouble. He promised to check on his status at the Mukhabarat, and to call her back with any new information.
• Dr. Sakher Hallak called his best friend, a psychiatrist, on Thursday morning to tell him that he is at the Mukhabarat and that he is well, and that he would be released in a couple of days. The Mukhabarat wanted to ask him about his recent visit to the USA, he said. He visited the USA from April 15 to May 05, 2011 in order to attend a medical conference in Miami, Florida. Later that morning, his friend visited Sakher, and he told the family that Sakher was well.
• On Friday, May 27, the Mukhabarat interviewed Sakher’s wife and daughter. They were told that everything would be OK, and that he would be released on Saturday.
• On Saturday, his wife called again, and she was told that he should be on his way home, but he had to stop at the courthouse to sign some documents.
• His body was found freshly dead Friday at 6 PM, in a village 20 km from Aleppo. It was dumped in a ditch in an out-of-the-way area.
• On Saturday evening, May 28, the coroner’s office called family, and told them that they have a body in the morgue, and that it might belong to Sakher.
• Indeed, the body was that of Sakher. There was evidence of multiple injuries, consistent with torture and direct trauma to the head. His eyes and his penis were mutilated. Most of the bones in his body were broken, and marks from different types of boots were imprinted on his body. He died by strangulation. There were handcuff and rope marks on his fingers, suggesting that he was trying to dislodge the rope off of his neck.
• In the morgue, the Mukhabarat told family that they never had Sakher in their custody, but, that, instead, they found him dead on the street.
• The coroner’s official cause of death was torture and strangulations by rope. They refused to release the full report or the date and time of death.
• The Mukhabarat wrapped the body with gauze, like a mummy, making sure that only his face, with his eyes closed, and his feet were showing, to prevent any incriminating photos. The family was not allowed to be alone with his body.
• Sakher’s body was monitored by 2 Mukhabarat agents at all times. They also prevented people from attending his funeral; only 200 were allowed to attend. They used official cars to transport the body to the funeral and made sure that no photos were taken.
• The family were told that he was killed by the Mossad. No one believed it, since he was a physician, not a nuclear scientist.
• Subsequently, the family was told that his nurse manager murdered him. They took the cameras out of his office, and accused her of stealing. She was in jail for a period of time, charged with theft, but not murder. She was released recently.
• In June 2011, a physician, helping a boy injured in a demonstration in Aleppo, was arrested by the Shabiha. They told him that he was being taken away to join Dr. Sakher Hallak.