Dutch court convicts former Assad fighter

A Dutch court convicted a former member of a pro-Assad militia of complicity in torture and illegal detainment, according to AP, January 21.

The suspect, aged 35 ,who was referred to as Mustafa A. in compliance with the country’s privacy laws, was sentenced by The Hague Court of District to 12 years in prison as he was found guilty of illegal detention and complicity in the torture of a Palestinian man who was dragged out of his home at a refugee camp near the city of Aleppo and handed over to the Syrian Air Force Intelligence Service (the country’s main intelligence service) whose members subjected him to repeated torture, according to the court.

He had committed such acts when serving as a member of the Liwa Al-Quds, a Syrian Palestinian brigade that operates as part of the Assad government forces and was formed in the same year Mustafa’s crimes took place and two year after the breakout of the civil war which erupted thanks to the Syrian President’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests. 

The group had killed an estimated 200 as well as wounding hundreds more a couple of years after its creation. 

READ: Dutch police arrest Assad official suspected of torture

The Hague District Court, one of 11 courts of its kind in The Netherlands, tried the suspect based on universal jurisdiction, a legal priciple which gives the right to prosecute those for serious crimes such as war crimes even if the individual(s) did not commit such acts on Dutch soil. 

Mustafa was granted asylum by then Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government and was arrested shortly upon his entry as Dutch authorities found that he was a former member of the Liwa Al-Quds militia. 

At a recent hearing he had denied all charges against him, claiming he had only joined the group as a means of combatting terrorists, notably ISIS, and to defend his family as well as his people. It was also reported that he appeared quite evasive, based on some of his responses, on numerous occasions during the proceedings. 

In a similar case in 2021, a German court convicted a former member of Assad’s secret police for facilitating the torture of prisoners in jails. The man was accused of complicity in crimes against humanity and was sentenced to 4 and a half years in prison. 

AP/ Reuters

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