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Netherlands: Police arrest suspected member of pro-Syria regime militia 

Dutch police clashes with Turkish demonstrators who gathered outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam to protest against the Dutch government's ban on Turkish ministers speaking in the country. 12 March 2017. [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]
Dutch police in Rotterdam on 12 March 2017 [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]

Dutch police arrested a 34-year-old man suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity as a member of a pro-government militia in Syria today, the public prosecution service said, Reuters reported.

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

It is the first time the Dutch authorities have arrested a war crimes suspect accused of fighting on the side of the government of president Bashar Al-Assad during the conflict.

"The suspect is said to have been part of the pro-regime militia Liwa Al-Quds, that works closely with the Syrian intelligence services and the Russian armed forces," the public prosecution service 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, according to prosecutors.

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

Such cases are prosecuted in the Netherlands under "universal jurisdiction" principles, which say suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity can be prosecuted abroad if they cannot be tried in the country where the crimes were allegedly committed.

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