Asylum seeker suspected of desecrating bodies in Syrian civil war

Ahmad Al Y. is not an asylum seeker who deserves protection, but a war criminal who desecrated the corpses of killed opponents during the Syrian civil war, the Public Prosecutor said during the first proforma hearing in the case against the 30-year-old Syrian man in the high security court at Schiphol on Wednesday, AD reports.

Al Y. reported as an asylum seeker at the asylum center in Ter Apel in October last year. There he was arrested based on an international arrest warrant issued against him in 2015. The Dutch judiciary is now prosecuting Al Y. for a war crime. He is suspected of fighting in the battle of Al Ghab plain near the Syrian city of Hama on behalf of combat group Ahrar al Sham in April 2015.

According to the Prosecutor, a video on YouTube shows Al Y. "celebrating" the death of government soldiers. He sung over their corpses, called them "dogs", put his foot on one body, and kicked another corpse, according to the Prosecutor. He also distributed the video online himself, the Prosecutor said, adding that Al Y. looks "very much" like the man in the video. The Netherlands forensic institute NFI is investigating this further. Two witnesses also said that Al Y. fought with Ahrar al Sham, the Prosecutor said.

According to Al Y.'s lawyer Andre Seebregts, it cannot be said with certainty that it is indeed his client on the video. "And one of the witnesses who declared against him is someone with whom he had a big fight in an asylum center in Germany," the lawyer said in court, adding that this makes the statement unreliable. 

Al Y. told the court that he wants to be transferred away from the terrorism department of the prison in Vught. "I am a democrat, I am for separation of church and state. I am now in jail with people with different ideas. I do not want to be influenced by them," he said. 

The court remanded Al Y. into custody until his next hearing, scheduled in three months' time.