A court in France upheld the conviction of Bashar Assad’s uncle

A French court upheld the sentence handed down by the first instance court in 2020 to former Syrian Vice President Rifat al-Assad, the uncle of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. BFM.TV reported about it in its broadcast on September 9.

At the time, a relative of the Syrian leader was sentenced to four years in prison. A Paris appeals court also upheld charges of money laundering as part of an organized group and tax law violations.

Rifat al-Assad was found guilty in 2020 of money laundering, financial irregularities in real estate and illegal use of Syrian state funds from the time he fled the country in 1983-1984 until 2016. He was found guilty of embezzling Syrian state funds to the tune of €90 million to buy houses and offices. The 82-year-old former Syrian vice president denied all charges.

His real estate in London is valued at €29 million. During the case, the court arrested his homes in London and Paris.

The defendant was hospitalized with internal bleeding in France in December 2020, did not participate in court hearings and is unlikely to serve his sentence because of his health, experts believe.

Rifat al-Assad was the second most important person in Syria. His brother Hafez led Syria from 1971 until his death in 2000. Since 1984, after a failed coup to overthrow his brother, Rifat lived mostly in exile in France and Spain.

On the day of the verdict, Mike Pompeo, then U.S. secretary of state, announced that Washington was imposing new sanctions against Syria that would include President Bashar al-Assad and his wife.