French Jail Term Confirmed for Rifaat Assad

By Asharq Al-Awsat
AFP file photo of Rifaat al-Assad

The Paris appeals court on Thursday backed a guilty verdict against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's uncle for misappropriating public funds in Syria, laundering the spoils and building a vast property portfolio in France with ill-gotten gains.

The court confirmed last year's four-year prison sentence against 84-year-old Rifaat al-Assad, which he may not have to serve given his advanced age.

But the confiscation of his French real estate assets, worth an estimated 90 million euros ($106 million), ordered at his initial trial, will now go ahead.

The younger brother of the late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad -- father of the incumbent president -- was tried for crimes allegedly committed between 1984 and 2016, including aggravated tax fraud and misappropriation of Syrian funds, AFP reported.

A Paris court last June dismissed charges against Assad for the period 1984 to 1996, but found him guilty of organized laundering of funds embezzled from the Syrian public purse between 1996 and 2016. He was also convicted of tax fraud.

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