Dutch arrest Syrian accused of torture and sexual violence against Syrians

AMSTERDAM (Reuters): Dutch authorities on Friday arrested a Syrian man living in the Netherlands suspected of heading a military torture center in Syria, the public prosecution service said.

The service said in a statement that the man was believed to have headed the interrogation department of the National Defense Force (NDF) in Syria in 2013 and 2014. It did not give his name.

“The suspicion is that from this position the man committed acts of torture and sexual violence against civilians,” it said.

He arrived in the Netherlands in July 2021 after which he received a temporary asylum permit. Following a tip, the International Crimes Team (TIM) tracked him down shortly after his arrival.

In recent years Dutch courts have convicted several Syrian nationals of war crimes who were members of opposition and Islamist 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.

Last week, prosecutors asked for a 17-year sentence at the conclusion of the trial of a 35-year-old suspected member of a pro-Assad militia. The verdict in that case is expected early next year.