Sweden Sentences Former Syrian Rebel to 5 Years in Prison for War Crimes

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Swedish court on Thursday sentenced a former Syrian rebel to five years in prison for war crimes over the beating of a pro-regime fighter that was shown in a "torture video."

The verdict against 28-year-old Mouhannad Droubi is the first case of a Syrian citizen being convicted in Sweden for crimes committed in the war-torn country.

Prosecutors used the video of the assault that was posted on the Facebook account of the former Free Syrian Army fighter as evidence against him.

According to his indictment, Droubi took part in the beating of "an unidentified person tied to the Syrian state's armed forces" in the summer of 2012 in a manner that "resembles torture."

The victim — whose hands and feet were tied — had been injured before the assault, which according to the court included several blows with a whip and a truncheon or similar weapons.

Droubi, who has lived in Sweden since 2013, was convicted of violating an article of the Geneva Conventions that prohibits "cruel treatment and torture" and of aggravated assault.

He told the court he was "99 percent sure he would have been killed if he hadn't participated in the video recording," according to a copy of the verdict.

The court said it would not order the man's deportation because of the situation in Syria but that he was likely to lose his Swedish residence permit and refugee protection status pending an investigation.

The man said he risked being killed if forced to return to his home country, where the conflict first erupted in March 2011 as a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Since 2011, the conflict has evolved into a brutal war after government forces violently repressed demonstrators. Islamists have since poured into the country from all over the world, seeking to establish an “Islamic caliphate.”

His lawyer, Magnus Stroemberg, told AFP he planned to appeal.

Droubi arrived in Sweden in September 2013, the same month that Stockholm announced it would grant automatic residency to all Syrians fleeing the conflict, except those found guilty of war crimes.

The Syrian war has caused a surge in asylum applications in Sweden, which welcomes the highest number of refugees per capita in Europe and expects an all-time record of 90,000 asylum applications this year.

An August UN report stated that the Syrian regime and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) jihadist group had committed war crimes in Syria during the nearly four-year conflict that has killed an estimated 210,000 people and displaced almost half of the country's 23 million people from their homes since 2011.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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