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Sweden court issues life sentence to Syrian opposition fighter

[JURIST] The Stockholm District Court on Thursday sentenced [press release] a former Syrian rebel fighter to life in prison for his participation in a mass execution of seven men in 2012. The defendant, who had permanent residence in Sweden, argued that the executions were carried out in accordance with the court-ordered death sentences issued for the men. Those executed were soldiers under the Syrian regime. The Swedish court struggled with the notion of legitimate, non-governmental courts being created under the conditions of an armed-conflict. However, the imposed life sentence was ultimately determined based on the proximity of the initial capture of the men to the subsequent execution. The soldiers were killed two days after their capture. The court ruled that the defendant had committed serious crimes in violation of international law because the soldiers could not have received a fair trial in a matter of days.

A number of war crimes have been alleged during the Syrian Civil War. Earlier this month Human Rights Watch alleged that the Syrian government had conducted coordinated chemical attacks [JURIST report] on the rebel controlled portions of Aleppo. Also in February Amnesty International claimed that the Syrian government has hanged more than 13,000 prisoners in extrajudicial executions [JURIST report] over a five-year period at Saydnaya prison. In January the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council stated that the interruption of water that has left millions of Syrians without clean access to water constitutes a war crime [JURIST report].

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