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Syrian war crimes suspect appears before a court in the Netherlands

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Lawyers for a Syrian accused of war crimes denied on Monday in the Netherlands that their client was a member of the hardline Islamic Al-Nusra Front.

Ahmed al-Khader, nicknamed Abu Khudair, faces charges of murder and of joining a terrorist group under Dutch jurisdiction to enforce international law. He faces up to life imprisonment if found guilty. He was charged in connection with allegations that he participated in an execution during the Syrian civil war.

This is the first time that a Syrian citizen has been charged with war crimes under the jurisdiction of the Netherlands for applying international law. His case is the second in a Dutch court to deal with war crimes during the Syrian civil war. The first case concerns Dutch nationals who took part in the fighting in Syria.

At a preparatory hearing in a heavily secured courtroom near Schiphol airport, the 47-year-old Shaved appeared in a blue shirt.

The Greens allegedly led the so-called Muhsin Strangers Brigade, but his lawyer said he was lying when he told a reporter that he was a member of Jabhat al-Nusra.

“It was not true,” lawyer Andrzej Sibrichts told the court.

Prosecutors say the defendant took part in the execution of a detained Syrian soldier in July 2012. They added that videos of the execution were posted on the Internet.

Sebrichtz said the Greens had confessed to being at the execution site but denied involvement.

“My client was there to ask whether the officer could be exchanged for his two brothers (who were being held by Syrian government forces.”)

Dutch authorities say Abu Khudair, who was arrested in May, has been in the Netherlands since 2014, where he has been granted temporary asylum. The charges against him are based on testimony from witnesses by German police.

The next hearing is scheduled for November 18.

Under Dutch law, Dutch courts can prosecute a person for genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity committed on foreign soil under the jurisdiction of international law, if the accused is a resident of the Netherlands.

Jabhat al-Nusra, once part of an al Qaeda organization, changed its name and became part of HTS, the most powerful armed faction in northwestern Syria.

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