Ahmad al-Y

17.04.2023 ( Last modified: 29.03.2023 )
TRIAL International reminds its visitors that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.


Conviction for war crimes allegedly committed in Syria in 2015 by a commander of the Salafist militant group Ahrar al-Sham. That group was designated as a terrorist organization by a Dutch court in 2019.

Type of jurisdiction

Universal jurisdiction



Ahmad al-Y., Syrian national, former commander of the armed group Ahrar al-Sham


Country of residence of suspect

The Netherlands



War crimes; membership in a terrorist organization


Current status

Sentenced on appeal to 5 years and 4 months; awaiting appeal before the Supreme Court



According to the judgment, Ahmad al-Y. commanded Ahrar al-Sham fighters and took part in an offensive in the city of Hama in April 2015. During this time, he subjected persons who were hors de combat to humiliating and degrading treatment by posing with the corpse of an enemy fighter and kicking the body of another. In addition, he appeared in a video posted on YouTube, “singing to celebrate the deaths of fighters and referring to them as dogs.”

Ahmad al-Y. entered the Netherlands as an asylum seeker in October 2019.



On 22 October 2019, Dutch police arrested Ahmad al-Y. in an asylum center in Ter Apel, on suspicion of outrages upon personal dignity constituting a war crime. According to the Dutch Public Prosecutor, Ahmad al-Y. was flagged by German authorities in 2015 when he spent a short- time seeking asylum there before returning to Syria due to personal circumstances.

On 21 April 2021, The Hague District Court found Ahmad al-Y. guilty of membership in a terrorist organization and committing a war crime of assault on personal dignity by putting his foot on a corpse, making a kicking movement to another and by celebrating the deaths of the deceased adversaries while referring to them as “dogs”. He was sentenced to six years in prison. The prosecution appealed the decision.



Appeal hearings commenced in October 2022 and came to a close in November 2022. On 6 December 2022, The Hague Court of Appeal ruled that the acts depicted on the videos presented in support of the case did not reach the threshold of the war crime of assault on personal dignity, and acquitted al-Y. of all core international crimes charges. It upheld the finding of guilt for membership in a terrorist organization. Al-Y.’s sentence was thus lowered to five years and four months in prison.

The prosecution has appealed the decision on the law before the Supreme Court.

©2023 trialinternational.org | All rights reserved | Privacy Policy | Statutes | Designed and Produced by ACW