An Austrian court has sentenced a Syrian asylum seeker for war crimes committed in his country to life imprisonment.

The incriminating statement was written in Arabic and the accused read it and signed all pages
ALEXANDER BECHER / EPA

An Austrian court has sentenced a Syrian asylum seeker for war crimes committed in his country to life in custody on suspicion of killing at least 20 wounded and unarmed government soldiers, ORF radio reported on Thursday.

The Innsbruck Regional Court in western Austria explains the conviction in the transcript of an interrogation before Austrian antiterrorist agents during which the 27-year-old man confessed to the crimes.

The defendant was portrayed at the first hearing of the trial in February and said that there had been an error in the translation and that he had never killed anyone.

“He reported that he shot dead wounded soldiers. I even asked him again and confirmed him, “said the translator of the accused, who was called to testify if there was an error in the transcription of the initial interrogation.

The incriminating statement was written in Arabic and the accused read it and signed all pages.

The defense lawyer criticized flaws in the lawsuit and said there was a big difference between what his client had said and what appeared in the written statement.

In that document, the defendant acknowledges having killed severely wounded soldiers with no hope of surviving to “avoid their suffering.”

The convicted man lived in Syria in a Palestinian refugee camp and was a member of Islamist militias linked to the Syrian Free Army, writes the Austrian news agency APA.

The accused told the court that the Syrian government killed his brother for taking part in the first protests against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011.

“The regime killed my brother. I had a gun to defend myself and my family, “he said.

The decision now reported is subject to appeal.

Syria has been living a civil war for six years, between the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, opposition movements, and extremist Islamist groups.

The UN estimates that at least 320,000 people have died and millions have been forced to flee since the beginning of the armed conflict in Syria in March 2011.

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