Spanish court seeks to try Assad's uncle, the 'Butcher of Hama', for money laundering

Spanish court seeks to try Assad's uncle, the 'Butcher of Hama', for money laundering
Rifaat al-Assad also faces trial in France for money laundering.
2 min read
22 November, 2019
Bashar al-Assad's uncle is widely held responsible for the 1982 Hama massacre [Getty]
A Spanish court has recommended that former Syrian Vice President Rifaat al-Assad, the exiled uncle of Bashar al-Assad, and 13 others be put on trial on charges of criminal organisation and money laundering.

Judge Jose de la Mata alleges that Rifaat Assad and the others, including eight sons, have laundered money taken out of Syria in several European countries since the 1980s.

The court accuses them of laundering around 600 million euros ($664 million) in Spain through real estate purchases.

The judge in 2017 ordered the seizure of more than 500 properties belonging to Assad and his relatives.

Rifaat Assad, the younger brother of former President Hafez al-Assad, is thought to be responsible for the 1982 Hama massacre that saw the deaths of as many as 40,000 people and the 1980 Tadmor prison massacre of between 500 to 1,000 inmates.

The former vice president went into exile in 1984 after allegedly launching a failed coup attempt against his brother, and currently lives between France and the United Kingdom.

Rifaat al-Assad is also facing trial in France for alleged money laundering in building a 90 million euro ($102 million) property portfolio.

De la Mata has asked prosecutors to decide if Spain should proceed with the case.

One of Rifaat Assad's wives and three of his children have controversially been granted the right to live indefinitely in the UK.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay connected