Vienna, Austria. A refugee who came to Europe from Syria with a past, just found out that past has caught up to him on a lifetime basis. In Austria, a court has jailed a 27-year-old Syrian for life on charges of committing crimes against humanity while fighting against Bashar Assad’s forces alongside the Free Army.
The prosecution said the accused had boasted to other asylum seekers of belonging to a rebel unit and shooting unarmed or injured troops loyal to Assad. The man, who denied the charges, was detained in a refugee shelter in Tyrol state last June after being denounced by a fellow Syrian.
After his arrest, the man admitted to General Security investigators that he had killed at least 20 wounded pro-Assad forces in Homs in central Syria between the years 2013 and 2014.
The man, who was not named, had lived in a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. He told investigators that he had participated along with his brothers in an anti-Assad demonstration and that security forces were pursuing him for that.
The court in the western city of Innsbruck announced its ruling late Wednesday after a jury found the 27-year-old guilty of 20 charges of “murder as a terror offence”.
The man said his testimony had been badly translated. But the translator rejected this in court: “The defendant told me he had shot badly wounded soldiers. I asked him to repeat his claim and he did.” He added that Assad’s forces killed his brothers and that he took up arms in self-defense.