Dutch authorities free Iraqi-born insurgent

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A man sentenced by a US court to 25 years in jail for conspiring to kill Americans in Iraq was freed Wednesday after Dutch judges slashed his jail term citing poor US prison conditions.

The district court in the port city of Rotterdam said it converted the sentence of Wesam al-Delaema, an Iraqi-born Dutch citizen, to eight years.

This was closer to the applicable penalty for the same crime under Dutch law, prosecution spokesman Wim de Bruin said.

Delaema, 37, had already been in prison for more than two-thirds of the new sentence and thus "he was released" under Dutch parole regulations, he said.

He had been sentenced by a Washington court in April 2009 for making videos on how to construct roadside bombs to kill US soldiers in Fallujah.

He was the first Iraq war insurgent to be prosecuted in a US court.

Delaema was arrested in the Netherlands on his return from Iraq in 2005 and extradited to the United States two years later.

After sentencing, Delaema was sent back to the Netherlands, under a bilateral agreement, to serve his sentence there.

"A sentence of eight years was imposed," said a statement from the Dutch court that added that Delaema had already served 5.5 years behind bars, mostly in the United States.

Judges took into account as a mitigating factor the "bad conditions" of his detention in the United States that "deviate negatively from the detention situation in comparable cases in the Netherlands," said the statement.

The sentence conversion process happens automatically if a Dutch citizen convicted of a crime abroad is sent to the Netherlands to serve out the sentence, the prosecutor said.

"It is the end of a nightmare," Delaema's lawyer Victor Koppe told AFP on Wednesday. "He should never have been extradited to the US. This was a purely Dutch criminal case."

In a separate case, Delaema had also been sentenced to 18 months' detention for kicking a US prison guard until he lost consciousness in 2007.

© 2010 AFP

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