The Hague District Court condemned Ahmad al Kehdr, a Syrian refugee and former member of the Syrian army, sentenced him to 20 years in prison for war crimes on Friday.
The court had video evidence of Al Khedr participating in the execution of a Syrian government official in 2012. Presiding Judge Jan van Steen noted that the execution took place in a country with “non-international armed conflict. Was going on, deserving of careful consideration. .
Al Khedr was prosecuted under the Universal Jurisdiction Act, which allows the Netherlands to prosecute people for genocide, war crimes and human rights violations, even though the crime took place elsewhere in the world.
Numerous videos of the shooting were shown in court during hearings held last month. In one of these videos, the Syrian lieutenant colonel Qussai Mahmoud al Ali can be seen handcuffed, bruised and begging for his life. Investigators determined that 26 shots were fired and that six of them came from Al Khedr’s revolver. Al Khedr has denied allegations saying he only shot three times and intentionally missed at one point, as the video shows, in an attempt to spare Al Ali’s life.
Al Khedr served in the Syrian army for 20 years and reportedly deserted at the start of the civil war, enlisting in a series of groups opposed to the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Al Khedr’s case is just one of many lawsuits filed against political asylum seekers from Syria who have settled in the Netherlands. Al Khedr moved to the town of Kapelle before his arrest in 2019 when his crimes were uncovered by German investigators, who then informed their Dutch counterparts.
While prosecutors requested a 27 years in prison, the court imposed 20. Al Khedr plans to appeal the conviction.