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Austria Convicts Asylum Seeker For 20 Civil War Killings In Syria

REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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A Syrian asylum seeker has been sentenced to life in prison for war crimes by an Austrian court, including the killing of 20 government soldiers.

The man was arrested at a refugee shelter last June after a fellow migrant alerted authorities of his account from the civil war. He confessed to belonging to a rebel unit and shooting unarmed or injured soldiers in the western region of Homs in 2013 and 2014.

He later retracted his confession, but a translator confirmed his testimony in court.

“The defendant told me he had shot badly wounded soldiers. I asked him to repeat his claim and he did,” the translator said, according to AFP.

Killing injured soldiers is prohibited under the Geneva Conventions, which led to a guilty verdict of “murder as a terrorism offense.” Austria was unable to extradite the man back to Syria because of the ongoing war.

The case was the first involving war crimes in Syria to ever go on trial in Austria. Several similar cases have emerged in Germany in recent months.

A Syrian refugee identified as Abdalfatah H. A., 36, is accused of being the executioner at a mass killing of 36 government employees in 2013. He’s a suspected member of the al-Qaida-linked Al-Nusra Front. Abdulrahman A. A., 26, was also arrested in March for being part of the network. He is accused of managing funds, vehicles and weapons for one of Al-Nusra Front’s combat units. (RELATED: ISIS Fighters Returning To Europe Get Away With Murder, Even When They Confess)

German police arrested an Afghan man in late March who allegedly commanded a Taliban unit during an attack that killed 16 American and Afghan soldiers.

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