You can run, but you can’t always hide

Lawyers are practical people. Most would consider the laws of war an obscure field far removed from daily practice. A recent Swedish case suggests familiarity with that area could be useful in countries with high refugee intakes from recent conflicts.

Bombed_out_vehicles_Aleppo
Aleppo, Syria, 2012 (Image from Voice of America)

Mohammad Abdullah entered Sweden as a refugee from Syria in 2014. Other Syrians in Sweden noticed a photograph on his Facebook page showing him posing in army fatigues with his boot on the body of a dead man.

 

Sweden invoked “universal jurisdiction” over the matter.  Proceedings were commenced in Stockholm District Court. Abdullah was charged with breaching Art. 3(1)(c) of the Third Geneva Convention

In … armed conflict not of an international character … members of armed forces … placed hors de combat by … any … cause, shall … be treated humanely …. [T]he following acts are … prohibited: … outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.

Abdullah was convicted. Larsson J sentenced him to eight months imprisonment.

Attorps v Abdullah (2017), New York Times, 5 October 2017, p.A10