Home International Interpol president under investigation for “complicity in torture” in France

Interpol president under investigation for “complicity in torture” in France

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A judicial investigation was opened at the end of March in Paris for “complicity in torture” after the complaint of two Britons targeting the Emirati president of Interpol, Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi. A complaint against him refers to “torture” and “arbitrary detention” between 2018 and 2019.

A new judicial front for the Emirati president of Interpol, Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi: already targeted by a first investigation, he has been the subject since the end of March of a judicial investigation for “complicity in torture” after the complaint in France of two Britons.

The National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office (Pnat) confirmed to AFP that it had entrusted a Parisian investigating judge with an investigation after a complaint with civil action evoking “torture” and “arbitrary detention” in 2018 and 2019 including Mr. Al – Raisi is said to have been an accomplice as a senior police officer in the United Arab Emirates.

This type of complaint makes it possible in France to obtain the almost automatic designation of an investigating judge, who is statutorily independent. A source familiar with the matter therefore tempered on the “limited scope”, at this stage, of such an investigation.

The plaintiffs used France’s universal jurisdiction, which allows the French courts to prosecute people suspected of torture if they are in France. Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi has been to Lyon several times since January, where Interpol is based.

“None of this could have happened without his knowledge and involvement”

In a press release, the two Britons indicate that they will “provide evidence of torture on Wednesday” during a hearing “at the request of the Parisian investigating judge” of the crimes against humanity pole. The first plaintiff, Matthew Hedges, is an academic, specialist in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

During a press conference in Lyon in October, he recounted the accusations of espionage to which he had been subjected during a study trip to prepare for his doctorate, following which he said he had been detained and tortured between May and November 2018 and “forced to make a false confession”.

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Sentenced to life in November 2018, he was pardoned less than a week later, under international pressure. At the same conference, Ali Issa Ahmad, a security officer from Wolverhampton (central England), had meanwhile reported having been beaten several times and even stabbed during a month-long stay in detention between January and February 2019 in the emirate of Sharjah.

The motive, according to him, is that he would have supported too ostensibly during an Asian Cup match the football team of the rival emirate of Qatar with a T-shirt on which appeared the burgundy flag of this country.

For the plaintiffs, Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi “is ultimately responsible for the torture perpetrated on them by the Emirati police forces”. “None of this could have happened without his knowledge and involvement.”

“Unfounded”

Faced with these accusations, could the person concerned claim diplomatic immunity? A source close to the case told AFP that this question did not prevent the opening of a judicial investigation, and that it was up to the investigating judge seized to verify whether Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi could benefit from such a device.

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“Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi does not have immunity”, swept in January the British lawyer of the plaintiffs, Rodney Dixon. “We expect him, as president of Interpol, to cooperate fully with any investigation into his role in the torture and abuse perpetrated” against his clients.

In their press release, the plaintiffs say they have also initiated criminal proceedings in Norway, Sweden and Turkey, as well as a civil action in Great Britain. The presidency of the international criminal police organization is essentially an honorary function. Ahmed Al-Raisi had acceded to it in November after his election by the Member States, to the chagrin of human rights defenders and political leaders.

The Pnat also opened in 2022 a preliminary investigation concerning Major General Al-Raisi after a complaint for “torture” and “barbarism” filed by the NGO Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), concerning the fate of Ahmed Mansoor, one of the leading human rights defenders in the UAE.

In a statement released in January 2020, the UAE Foreign Ministry dismissed “baseless” claims by NGOs about the fate of Ahmed Mansoor. On this aspect, Interpol had underlined in January that “Al-Raisi holds full-time official duties in his own country and is not permanently based in Lyon” and that the dispute arose “from a subject between the parties concerned”.

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