Syria militia member gets 12 years jail in Netherlands

A Dutch court Monday jailed a former member of a Syrian militia for 12 years for crimes against humanity including complicity in torture under President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The 36-year-old Syrian-born man, identified only as Mustafa A., was a “commander” in the Liwa al-Quds militia, a Palestinian group loyal to al-Assad’s government, the court said.

“The members of Liwa al-Quds were guilty of war crimes such as looting and violence against civilians and unlawful imprisonment of civilians,” said the court in The Hague.

In 2013, A. was involved in arresting a man seen as an opposition supporter from a Palestinian refugee camp near Aleppo.

The Palestinian man was dragged from his home in front of his family and handed over to the notorious Syrian Air Force intelligence services, where he was brutally tortured, the court said.

The court judged that A. knew the intelligence service was infamous for torture practices that often resulted in death.

“Because of his role in the arrest and transfer of the Palestinian man to this agency, (he) is complicit in his torture,” the verdict said.

A. applied for asylum in the Netherlands in 2020 and was arrested two years later in the southern town of Kerkrade.

“These are crimes committed in Syria. The Dutch judge can still rule on this because it concerns international crimes and the man is now in the Netherlands,” the court said.

It is the first time a Syrian rights abuse case has been tried in the Netherlands and could open the door to the prosecution of other suspects residing in the country.

Syria’s war is estimated to have killed more than half a million people and displaced millions since it began with a brutal crackdown of anti-government protests in 2011.

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