A Dutch court on Friday jailed a Syrian man for 20 years for his role in a rebel firing squad that executed a captured soldier loyal to the Bashar al-Assad regime in 2012.
The 49-year-old accused, identified in Dutch media as Ahmad Al K., was sentenced under the principle of universal jurisdiction, where states can prosecute perpetrators of genocide or war crimes irrespective of their location or the victims’ nationalities.
At the time of the 2012 killing of a soldier who had surrendered — which the court in The Hague found was a war crime — the man was the commander of a small force in the Syrian town of Mohassan.
“He too fired on the victim,” the court said in a statement.
Although prosecutors demanded 27 years’ jail for the accused, saying he was the leader of a “terrorist organisation”, judges did not find the evidence strong enough for that charge.
A former Syrian army soldier, Al K. deserted and went on to lead “a group affiliated with terrorist organisation Jabhat al-Nusra,” public broadcaster NOS reported.
He fled to the Netherlands in 2013, only to be arrested six years later in New Zealand, where he was living with his wife and children.
Friday’s sentencing was the first in the Netherlands for a war crime committed in Syria, although one Syrian had previously been jailed for membership in a terrorist organisation and posing with dead bodies in a video.