France: Uncle of Syria's Assad sentenced to 4 years in prison for money laundering

A French court sentenced Rifaat al-Assad, uncle of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to four years in prison for money laundering in Paris on Wednesday. His lawyer, Benjamin Grundler, spoke of a «very harsh decision,» and signalled his intent to launch an appeal «immediately.» The court also ordered the confiscation of Assad's property assets in both France and the UK, and stipulated that he should also make a payment to the anti-corruption organisation Sherpa, which brought the initial lawsuit. The court case was the result of a near seven year investigation into the octogenarian, who faced charges including aggravated tax fraud and the improper use of Syrian state funds. The lawyer for the plaintiffs said that the verdict was «fair» and sent a «strong message» that «nobody gets away with it, there isn't any impunity in this area.» Assad, who was not present to hear the verdict, maintains that the source of his wealth was gifts from the Saudi royal family.
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