Representatives of the French prosecution demanded a four-year prison sentence and a fine of 10 million Euros ($11 million) against the uncle of the Syrian regime’s president, Bashar Al-Assad, for “unlawful gains,” in addition to confiscating his property, which was seized during the investigation, reported the French media.
Prosecutors accused the Syrian Minister of Defence and former Vice President Rifaat Al-Assad, at the beginning of his trial on Monday, of embezzling the funds of the Syrian state to build a real estate empire worth about 90 million Euros in France alone, extending to Britain, particularly in Gibraltar, and Spain, where he owns more than 500 properties valued at $691 million, which have been confiscated in 2017, according to Al-Quds Al-Arabi.
For his part, Rifaat Al-Assad, who has been absent from the trial due to medical reasons, denied the charges. Thus, even though the defendant’s lawyer submitted documents, proving that his client received donations amounting to about $25 million between 1984 and 2010, the investigators recorded transfers worth only $ 10 million from a Gulf country.
Six years ago, the French anti-corruption association Sherpa filed a complaint against Rifaat Al-Assad for purchasing property using illegal resources and embezzling public funds to get French judiciary to appoint a judge to investigate the case.
The judicial investigation showed that Bashar Al-Assad’s uncle acquired, through companies based in tax havens, significant real estate properties in France in the early 1980s, as he owned forty-two palaces in Paris, a horse farm near the French capital, offices in Lyon and other features, reported Al Jazeera Net.
It is worth mentioning that Rifaat Al-Assad, who has been under investigation in France since 2014, is a former leader of the Syrian regime and commander of the Defence Companies, a special force, which was instrumental during the bloody attack on the city of Hama in central Syria in 1982 and the notorious Tadmor Prison massacre. However, he was forced to leave Syria in 1984 and lived between Britain and France following a failed coup he led against his brother, Hafez Al-Assad, who ruled the country from 1971 until his death in 2000.