A former Syrian rebel fighter was sentenced to five years in prison in Sweden Thursday after being convicted of war crimes for beating a detained Syrian soldier and threatening him with violence in a video made in 2012. The man, 28-year-old Mouhannad Droubi, was given asylum in Sweden in 2013, but was arrested about 10 months later when Swedish police found the video.
Droubi posted the video to Facebook. It shows him and a handful of other rebels beating a man with a whip, a baton and threatening to cut off the man’s tongue. The victim’s hands and feet were tied up. Swedish prosecutors said this amounted to torture and a war crime because the victim was “hors de combat,” or defenseless, and should have been treated as a prisoner of war as outlined in international norms, according to Reuters.
Droubi reportedly was fighting for the Free Syrian Army, a rebel collective made up various secular and Islamic rebel groups that the U.S. supplies with weapons and support. The FSA first came to prominence fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime but now also fights the Islamic State group.
A handful of other videos, including one that emerged in 2013 depicting an FSA fighter cutting out a Syrian soldier’s heart and “eating” it, raised questions about the rebel groups the U.S. was supporting in Syria and if they lived up to U.S. claims that most of them were “moderate” groups.
He is the first person to be tried in relation to the Syrian conflict in a Swedish court, according to prosecutor Henrik Soderman. Prosecutors wanted him deported. He defended himself, arguing that he was forcibly taken by the FSA and made to beat the man to prove his loyalties and he did so “lightly.” The Sodertorns District Court said in its verdict that it had “no doubts that Mouhannad Droubi participated in this violence of his own free will,” according to Sputnik News.