Dutch police arrest suspected Syrian pro-government militia member

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THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Dutch police arrested a 34-year-old man suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity as a member of a pro-government, non-Shi'ite militia in Syria on Tuesday, the public prosecution service said.

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 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 if they cannot be tried in country where they were allegedly committed.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg, Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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