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17 Jun, 2020 13:16

French court finds uncle of Syria’s President Assad guilty of ‘property fraud’

French court finds uncle of Syria’s President Assad guilty of ‘property fraud’

The exiled uncle of Syrian President Bashar Assad has been found guilty of acquiring millions of euros worth of French property using funds diverted from the Syrian state, and has been sentenced to four years in prison, AFP reports.

The French court on Wednesday also ordered the seizure of all of Rifaat Assad’s property in France – which judicial sources estimate are worth €100 million ($113 million) – as well as a property in London worth €29 million.

The president’s uncle, 82, has lived in exile, mostly in France, since the mid-1980s, after being accused of trying to seize power from his brother, then-President Hafez Assad, Bashar's father. He'd previously commanded troops, whot were reportedly accused of killing thousands of people, to crush an Islamist uprising in 1982.

French judicial authorities suspected Rifaat Assad of having unduly acquired real estate in several countries between 1984 and 2016 with funds from Syria. He has repeatedly denied the allegations and said he acquired his wealth as a gift from the Saudi king. Rifaat Assad will not be sent to prison, pending his appeal.