Dutch Public Prosecutor Against Mustafa A. (Liwa Al Quds)

District Court of The Hague sentences Mustafa A., member of Liwa al Quds, to 12 years in prison for crimes against humanity and war crimes

The District Court of The Hague today delivered its verdict in the case of the Dutch Public Prosecutor against Mustafa A. (member of Liwa Al Quds). The court has found him guilty of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and participation in Liwa al Quds' militia activities, specifically related to the violent arrest and subsequent torture of a civilian in January 2013 in the Al Nairab camp outside of Aleppo.

The court sentenced him to 12 years in prison for crimes against humanity and war crimes in the formof deprivation of liberty (as direct perpetrator) and torture in detention (as an accessory), as well as forhis participation as a leader in a criminal organisation, Liwa Al Quds, which aims at committing crimesagainst humanity and war crimes.The Nuhanovic Foundation welcomes this momentous decision by the Court, which represents a significant step toward justice for victims and survivors of international crimes in Syria, reflecting the importance of accountability for those accused of such heinous crimes.

Click here to read our complete press release published in collaboration with our partners at the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) in English and in Arabic.

For media inquiries, reach out to us at mail@nuhanovicfoundation.org.

To read the decision of the District Court of The Hague (in Dutch), click here.

Trial hearing

The District Court of The Hague will deliver its verdict in the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s case against Mustafa A. (alleged member of regime-affiliated militia Liwa al Quds) on 22nd January, 2024. The verdict will be accessible in-person and online via livestream, and Arabic translation will be provided by the Court. 

Date: Monday, 22nd January 2024
Time: 13:00 CET
Address: Prins Clauslaan 60, The Hague 2595 AJ

Courts do not publish official verbatim transcripts of proceedings. Therefore, to inform the interested public, help establish a historical record and contribute to documentation, The Nuhanovic Foundation monitors international crimes trials taking place in the Netherlands and regularly publishes non-verbatim summary reports of hearings.

To read the summary of the trial hearings in the Dutch Public Prosecutor's case against Mustafa A, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

The historic case of the Dutch Public Prosecutor Against Mustafa A. (Liwa Al Quds) marks the first time that a member of an organisation linked to the Assad regime will face accusations in a Dutch court. This case is also especially significant because it could set a precedent for possible future cases against Assad's allies in the Netherlands, should the court decide that Liwa al Quds is a criminal organisation.

Due to the historic nature of the case, The Nuhanovic Foundation has collaborated with its partners at Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) to provide answers to frequently asked questions about the case. To view the FAQs in English and Arabic, click here.

Case Background

A suspect was arrested in the Dutch town of Kerkrade in May 2022 by the International Crimes Team of the Dutch police after they were tipped off that the man had been a member of a prominent Syrian militia, Liwa al-Quds. The militia fought on the side of President Assad's regime in the Syrian civil war, which has been raging in the country since 2011. The 34-year old man is also suspected of having been involved in a violent arrest of a Syrian citizen on January 28, 2013.

According to the Dutch Prosecution Service, the citizen was taken from his home by militia members of Liwa al-Quds, assisted by the Syrian military security service and the intelligence service of the air force. During the arrest, the citizen was abused and later brought to the nearby prison of the Syrian Air Force, where he was allegedly tortured. The suspect denies his presence at the crime scenes, but does not deny his membership of the alleged criminal organization Liwa al-Quds. He claims he did not do anything wrong and “only fought against terrorism and protected his family and his people."

The first pro forma hearing of the case took place on 12th August 2022. Although the case was not substantively discussed during the pro forma hearing, the Public Prosecutor's Office presented their suspicions, namely:
1. The suspect's membership in Liwa al-Quds,
2. His presence at the crime scenes, including that he was conscious of the violence used against the citizen and that the citizen would eventually be detained
3. His presence during the torture of the citizen in the Syrian Air Force’s prison.

This is the first time that a member of an organization linked to the Assad regime appears before a Dutch judge. There have been indications for some time, and worries from the Syrian community in the Netherlands, that Syrian asylum seekers in the Netherlands include individuals who were part of the much feared pro-Assad militias in Syria. This case is especially important because it could set a precedent for future cases against supporters of Assad's regime in the Netherlands, should the court decide that Liwa al-Quds is a criminal organization.

During the pre-trial hearings of 31st October 2022 and 27th January 2023, the Court decided to extend the pre-trial detention of the suspect. According to the Court, there were sufficiently serious allegations against the suspect, photos that suggest the suspect held a high position within Liwa al-Quds and that the suspect posed a flight risk. The Court decided that there is therefore enough reason to have the Public Prosecution Service investigate this further.

In the pre-trial hearing of 20th April 2023, the Court further extended the temporary detention of the suspect. The next pre-trial hearing will take place on July 13th 2023, and the substantive hearing is expected to take place in the fall of 2023, although it could be delayed to early-2024 if new protected witnesses come forward.