Based on the legal complaint submitted by the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, the Dutch Police International Crimes Team arrested the 34-year-old Palestinian-Syrian suspect (M.) in Kerkrade today, Tuesday 24 May 2022, and referred him to the investigative judge on charges related to suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria in the past years.
The complaint file submitted by the Center included a set of evidence proving that the suspect committed a number of violations which can be considered war crimes and crimes against humanity, including five testimonies of witnesses, three of whom were direct victims of the suspect’s crimes.
The complaint also included lists of victims who were documented in Violations Documentation Center (VDC) databases, in addition to an investigation prepared by the center’s litigation team, and a set of visual evidence and information from open sources.
Lawyer Tariq Hokan, director of the strategic litigation project at the Center (SCM), had indicated that the strategic litigation team had begun investigations into the suspect’s file in June 2020, after receiving the news of his arrival in the Netherlands. This was accompanied by preliminary information that he committed grave crimes against the Syrians, which were received from the direct victims of the suspect. The testimonies of witnesses and victims later documented by the Center confirmed that the suspect is from the Neirab camp in Aleppo, born in 1988. He was uneducated and worked in construction. Since the beginning of the demonstrations in Syria in 2011, he has participated in suppressing the demonstrators, confronting them with weapons and firing live bullets at them. As a group leader in the Al-Quds Brigade, he participated in storming civilians’ homes and arresting them, accompanied by joint patrols of Military Security and Air Intelligence, and then taking them to Neirab Airport Prison and the Military Academy, where they were subjected to severe torture there.
“The courage of the victims and the cooperation of the Syrian civil society with war crimes units prove effective in combating impunity, which requires a strategic partnership that ensures raising the capacities of local law enforcement agencies and Syrian institutions working in this field,” said Mazen Darwish, director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression.
The Dutch police issued a statement today, announcing their arrest of the suspect, and indicated that the suspect was working with the “Al-Quds Brigade” in Syria, which was formed in 2013 and was working closely with the intelligence service and the Russian forces. According to the statement, it is possible that the Al-Quds Brigade would be placed in the category of international terrorist organizations whose aim is to commit international crimes, similar to the Islamic State “ISIS”, which was placed in the same category before.
The court had announced that the accused would be questioned by the investigating judge in The Hague on Friday, May 27, 2022. And the case is one of five files previously submitted by the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression to the Dutch authorities regarding possible war crimes suspects in the Syrian Arab Republic.