Refugee Haisam Sakhanh, 46, was sentenced to life imprisonment Thursday
- Sakhanh had joined the armed group Suleiman Company in early May 2012, and shot a person dead with an assault rifle
- Sakhanh had confessed to the shooting but said he should not be prosecuted
- A judge said victim was shot dead along six others under ‘cruel circumstances’
A Swedish court on Thursday sentenced a Syrian man to life imprisonment for participation in the 2012 mass execution of seven government troops in Syria.
The Stockholm District Court ruled that 46-year-old refugee Haisam Omar Sakhanh joined the armed group Suleiman Company in early May 2012, and shot a person dead with an assault rifle.
Judge Tomas Zander said the victim, who was not identified, was shot dead along with six others ‘under particularly cruel circumstances’.
The seven men who were shot were part of the Syrian regime who had been captured by the independent Islamist group, which was founded in 2011.
The Islamist armed group captured the men during an attack at the beginning of May 2012, and the seven were shot to death less than two days later, according to Stockholms Tingsratt.
In the years since the execution, it has been impossible to identify the victims.
Sakhanh had confessed to the shooting but said he should not be prosecuted because the death sentences had been made by a legitimate court, something the Swedish court rejected.
It also rejected his defense that he had been following orders.
The group Sakanh was part of, the Suleiman Company, is a Islamic rebel group independent of Free Syrian Army that was formed in 2011 during the Syrian uprising.
The group is mainly active in the Idleb countryside’s Jebel al-Zawiya region, and is led by former drug smuggler and Salafi militant Abu Suleiman al-Hamawi, according to TrackingTerrorism.org.
The court said Sakanh had been active in Italy in 2011 and 2012 where he protested against the Syrian government.
Italian police helped investigators in Sweden to identify him via fingerprints and photos of him illegally entering the Syrian Embassy in Rome during a protest, according to the court ruling obtained by The Associated Press.
After his stint in Italy, Sakhanh returned to Syria before heading north to Sweden where he sought asylum in Sweden in 2013.
He failed to inform authorities about the executions and was given refugee status and permanent residence permit in early 2016.
He has been held in pre-trial custody since March.
In a statement, the court said Sakhanh’s crime ‘is so high that the punishment has been ruled to be life imprisonment’.
In Sweden, life imprisonment is normally ten years. The court said Sakhanh should then be expelled from the country and banned from returning.