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Syrian president’s uncle charged in Paris with corruption

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks during a TV interview
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks during a TV interview
2 min

Paris prosecutors have charged the uncle of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with corruption, an anti-graft group said Tuesday.

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Rifaat al-Assad, 78, who was Syria's vice president in the 1980s, was placed under investigation in April for amassing a 90-million-euro ($100-million) fortune, including a stud farm and luxury apartments, despite being kicked out of Syria "with nothing" 30 years ago.

Rifaat has been ordered to remain in France except for travel to Britain for medical treatment, said Sherpa, an activist group representing the victims of financial crime

Sherpa, a Paris-based group that defends victims of corruption, told reporters that Assad was charged on June 9.

He was forced into exile in the 1980s for trying to overthrow his older brother, the late Syrian dictator Hafez al-Assad.

French investigators have said that since then Rifaat has divided his time between homes in Paris, London and the southern Spanish resort city of Marbella.

The investigation into Rifaat's finances was triggered by Sherpa, which claims the fortune was stolen during his time at the heart of the Syrian regime.

Sherpa on Tuesday hailed "this advance in the judicial investigations involving one of the principal former dignitaries of the Syrian regime".

The Assad family claims Rifaat's fortune was the result of gifts from wealthy Saudi supporters, including former king Abdullah, with whom he shared a love of horse-racing.

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