Syrian president’s uncle faces Paris money laundering trial

Rifaat al-Assad, the uncle of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is going to trial in Paris, where he stands accused of illegally using Syrian state funds to build a French real estate empire. (File/AP)
Updated 09 December 2019

Syrian president’s uncle faces Paris money laundering trial

  • Watchdog organizations filed a complaint in Paris in 2014 charging that the value of his French real estate holdings exceeds his income
  • The 82-year-old will not appear in court himself for medical reasons

PARIS: The uncle of Syrian President Bashar Assad is going on trial in Paris, accused of illegally using Syrian state funds to build a French real estate empire.
Rifaat Assad, a former Syrian vice president and brother to longtime leader Hafez Assad, has lived in Europe since his exile from Syria following a failed coup attempt in the 1980s.
Watchdog organizations filed a complaint in Paris in 2014 charging that the value of his French real estate holdings — some 90 million euros ($99.5 million) — far exceeds his known income.
French authorities have been probing his finances since then, and an investigating judge ordered him earlier this year to stand trial for money laundering.
Rifaat Assad denies the charges “completely,” Cedric Anthony-Btesh, a representative of the family, told The Associated Press on Monday.
The trial kicks off Monday afternoon. The 82-year-old will not appear in court himself for medical reasons, Anthony-Btesh said.


Saudi Arabia urges nationals in Wuhan to contact embassy after coronavirus outbreak

Updated 8 min 32 sec ago

Saudi Arabia urges nationals in Wuhan to contact embassy after coronavirus outbreak

  • Saudi nationals in Wuhan are being advised to call emergency numbers provided in order to facilitate evacuation
  • Millions of people traveling during the Lunar New Year holiday have fueled the spread of the outbreak nationwide and overseas after it began in the city of Wuhan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s embassy in China on Saturday urged its citizens in Wuhan to contact its emergency numbers urgently to facilitate evacuation from the city after an outbreak of coronavirus, which has killed 41 people in China.
Saudi nationals in Wuhan, the original source of the previously unknown 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), are being advised to call the following numbers in order to facilitate evacuation:
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to China: 008618511178585
Head of the consular section: 008618500224844
Department for the affairs of Saudis: 008615011007558
Unified number for the affairs of Saudis abroad: 0096692003334
Millions of people traveling during the Lunar New Year holiday have fueled the spread of the outbreak nationwide and overseas after it began in the city of Wuhan in central China. The vast majority of infections and all of the deaths have been in mainland China, but fresh cases are popping up elsewhere.
Australia and Malaysia reported their first cases on Saturday, and Japan, its third. France confirmed three cases on Friday, the first in Europe, and the US identified its second, a woman in Chicago who had returned from China.
Wuhan, at the heart of the outbreak and whose 11 million residents are already on lockdown, banned most vehicle use, including private cars, in downtown areas starting on Sunday, state media reported.
Only authorized vehicles carrying supplies and for other needs would be permitted, the reports said.