November 22, 2019 / 12:58 PM / 19 days ago

Spain set for money laundering trial against uncle of Syria's Assad

FILE PHOTO: Pictures of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his father Hafez al-Assad are seen inside a hotel in Damascus, Syria, September 16, 2018. REUTERS/Marko Djurica/File Photo

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain is heading towards a money laundering trial against an uncle of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, the High Court said on Friday, after an investigating judge finished his probe.

The prosecuting office has ten days to comment on the judge’s recommendation that the case goes ahead, which is considered a formality, after which a trial start date will be set, the court said.

Two years ago, the High Court confiscated over 600 million euros ($663.24 million) of assets thought to be linked to Rifaat al-Assad.

He is a former military commander, widely held responsible for crushing an Islamist uprising in 1982 against then-president Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father. Many thousands were killed.

Rifaat al-Assad turned against the government in 1984 after a power struggle over who would succeed his older brother, Hafez. He now lives in exile between France and Britain.

He is also facing trial in France for allegedly acquiring millions of euros worth of French property assets. ($1 = 0.9046 euros)

Reporting by Emma Pinedo Gonzalez and Clara-Laeila Laudette; Writing by Clara-Laeila Laudette; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Andrew Cawthorne

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