Prosecutors demand 17 years for Syrian war crimes suspect

Statue of justice.

The public prosecution service has told judges at in The Hague they want a 17-year sentence for a Syrian refugee accused of committing war crimes as part of a pro-regime militia.

The 35-year-old, identified only as Mustafa A, sought asylum in the Netherlands in 2020. He was arrested last year after the immigration service received a tip that he had arrested and tortured civilians.

According to prosecutors, the man belonged to the Liwa al-Quds militia, which operated in a Palestinian refugee camp near the border with Turkey. He worked together with Syrian security forces to harass and arrest anyone suspected of opposing the government of Bashar al-Assad.

Mustafa . admits he was part of the militia but denies any involvement with war crimes or crimes against humanity. He refused to answer questions during a hearing on Thursday, invoking his right to remain silent.

The Netherlands uses a legal principle known as universal jurisdiction to prosecute people accused of very serious crimes that took place abroad. The Dutch have gone after a number of Syrians who came to the Netherlands to seek asylum, but this is the first pro-regime defendant.

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