Dutch police arrest suspected member of Syrian pro-government militia

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Dutch police on Tuesday arrested a 34-year-old man suspected of having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity as a member of a non-Shia pro-government militia in Syria, a announced the prosecution. .

The man, who has not been named, had been living in the Netherlands since 2020 and had applied for asylum there.

This is the first time Dutch authorities have arrested a war crimes suspect accused of having fought alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s government during the conflict.

“The suspect is believed to have been part of the pro-regime Liwa al-Quds militia, which works closely with Syrian intelligence and Russian armed forces,” prosecutors said in a statement.

The suspect was involved in the violent arrest of a Syrian citizen who was later tortured in a prison run by Syrian Air Force intelligence, prosecutors say.

Previously, Dutch courts had convicted several Syrian nationals of war crimes who were members of the opposition and Islamist militias in Syria.

Such cases are prosecuted in the Netherlands under the principles of “universal jurisdiction”, according to which alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity can be prosecuted abroad if they cannot be tried in the country where they were allegedly committed.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg, editing by Alexandra Hudson)