Syrian General Acquitted of War Crimes in Swedish Court

The court found that prosecutors were unable to provide sufficient evidence to prove that the accused had participated in war crimes in 2012.

A Swedish court on Thursday acquitted a former Syrian general who had been accused of war crimes in his home country, dating back to 2012. The Stockholm District Court ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish that the unit in which Mohammed Hamo served, or the man personally, had taken part in atrocities.

The former Syrian Army brigadier general was in charge of armaments for the 11th Division between January and June 2012, when the national military was fighting armed anti-government groups, the court said. During that period, the Syrian military engaged in indiscriminate attacks against the district of Baba Amr in the city of Homs, and against the city of Al Rastan, it said. However, the evidence claiming that the 11th Division had played a role in those attacks was insufficient, the court said.

Hamo, 65, defected from the Syrian Army and reportedly joined one of the opposition forces, before later fleeing the country. He came to Sweden in 2015 and sought asylum there. His trial was held between April and May.

According to local media, the charges against him were backed by a group of eight plaintiffs, including a British photographer and a French journalist, who were both injured during the hostilities.

Prosecutor Karolina Wieslander told Agence France-Presse that she has until July 11 to review the full verdict and decide whether she wishes to appeal.

Syria was plunged into a civil war in 2011, as anti-government demonstrations and attempts by Damascus to restore order escalated into full-scale hostilities, in which foreign-supported jihadists emerged as the main opposition force.

The US, which actively supported some anti-government groups, was infamously content to be allied with the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. In a diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, Jack Sullivan, the current national security adviser to President Joe Biden, wrote in 2012 to Hillary Clinton, then US secretary of state, saying: “AQ is on our side in Syria.”

Russia intervened in the conflict in 2015 and helped Syria to regain control over most of its territory. Some parts of the country remain outside of Damascus’ authority, either due to US military occupation or because local militias backed by foreign powers refuse to take orders from the capital.

Hamo stands out as the highest-ranking ex-officer of the Syrian Army to stand trial under Western jurisdiction in person rather than in absentia.