Alleged militia member linked to Syrian regime to remain in custody on suspicion of war crimes
The 34-year-old man who was arrested in the Dutch town of Kerkrade in May 2022 has appeared for the first time before the Court of The Hague, that is hearing his case. The court decided that there are sufficient compelling reasons for the suspect to remain in custody. The man is suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria in 2013. The suspect had been living in the Netherlands since 2020 and had applied for asylum there.
The International Crimes Team of the Dutch police tracked down the suspect after being tipped off that the man had been a member of a prominent Syrian militia. The militia fought on the side of President Assad's regime in the Syrian civil war, which has been raging in the country since 2011. Never before has anyone who allegedly supported the Syrian regime been arrested for such grave suspicions in the Netherlands.
Violent arrest of civilian
In today's pro forma hearing the case has not yet been substantively discussed. However, the public prosecutor explained the suspicion. These are crimes against humanity and war crimes. The man is also suspected of participating in an organization that is aimed at committing international crimes: the pro-regime militia Liwa al-Quds, which works closely with the Syrian intelligence services. In January 2013, according to the Public Prosecution Service, the suspect was involved in the violent arrest of a citizen. He was arrested at his home by militia members of Liwa al-Quds, assisted by the Syrian military security service and the intelligence service of the air force. The civilian was mistreated during the arrest and later taken to a Syrian Air Force intelligence prison, where he was allegedly tortured.
The suspect denies that he was present at this arrest, he told at the court hearing. He does not deny that he was involved in Liwa al-Quds, but he states that he ‘only fought against terrorism and was protecting his family and his people’. The defense lawyer further requested to hear four witnesses, which was granted by the court. The request for the suspect to be released pending the next court session in November, was denied.
Pro-regime militia Liwa al-Quds
Liwa al-Quds was founded in the Palestinian refugee camp al-Nayrab near Aleppo. The militia was armed by the Syrian regime and was a key link in a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population. For example, the militia was deployed to crush demonstrations by civilians and to arrest civilians. According to the Public Prosecution Service, Liwa al-Quds can be classified as a criminal organization whose purpose it is to commit international crimes. The Public Prosecution Service suspects that several members of this militia are living in the Netherlands.
Call addressed to Syrian community
In order to find out more information about the suspect and possible other members of Liwa al-Quds in the Netherlands, the International Crimes Team recently made an appeal in the tv programme Opsporing NL. This appeal has been further distributed in Arabic via social media:
People who know more about members of Liwa al-Quds in the Netherlands, or about persons arrested in the al-Nayrab camp in Syria, are asked to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The war crimes unit will treat all reports confidentially. Tipsters abroad can also pass on information. It is also possible to report something without saying your name via Report Crime Anonymous. That number is 0800-7000. From abroad call +31 800 7000 (not all providers support this.)
By following this link you can also fill in the tip form online.