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EU rejects appeal by boss of Syria’s Cham Wings to remove sanctions

June 20, 2024 at 9:01 pm

European Union flags are seen waving outside the EU Commission Building in Brussels, Belgium. [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]

The European Union’s (EU) general court has rejected an appeal by a prominent Syrian businessman and chair of the airliner, Cham Wings, to have the company removed from the bloc’s sanctions list, months after it was re-added on to the blacklist.

Since January this year, the EU added Syrian businessmen and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Cham Wings Airlines, Muhammad Issam Shamout, to its sanctions list over its direct ties to Syria’s regime of Bashar Al-Assad. Throughout the years, the airline has been found to have conducted a number of controversial activities, such as transporting Syrian mercenaries and participating in the arms trade, narcotics smuggling and money laundering,

Despite being removed from the list back in July 2022, following a decade since its initial blacklisting, Cham Wings was investigated at the start of this year following new reports further implicating it in trafficking activities and its ties to the Assad regime, leading to the re-imposition of the EU’s sanctions on the company and Shamout himself.

In his appeal, Shamout had reportedly argued against the measures by emphasising the Syrian regime’s seizure of his property, referring to the Syrian Ministry of Transport’s seizure of his movable and immovable assets back in December 2019 due to his failure to pay $14.5 million worth of debts to the Syrian General Aviation Company.

According to the EU court, “the Syrian regime’s confiscation of his property due to non-payment of debts is not sufficient to refute the assumption of connection” to Assad and his government, as well as their activities.

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