Interpol’s UAE president under investigation by France over torture accusations

Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi was elected Interpol president in November. (AFP/File Ozan Kose)

On Wednesday, a source close to the investigation told AFP that French authorities had filed a case against Interpol's Emirati head amid allegations of torture and arbitrary detention by two Britons jailed in the UAE.

The case involving Ahmed Nasser al-alleged Raisi's cooperation in torture has been certified by France's anti-terror prosecutors agency (PNAT), which has now turned it over to an investigating magistrate who will determine whether to bring charges.

As a top interior ministry security officials, Matthew Hedges and Ali Issa Ahmad accuse Raisi of having ultimate responsibility for the torture and arbitrary incarceration they say they endured in the United Arab Emirates.

According to the source, the examining judge must also determine whether or not Raisi, who was elected president of Interpol in November, has diplomatic immunity from prosecution in France.

The British submitted the case per France's principle of universal jurisdiction, which permits it to prosecute significant crimes committed on foreign soil.

If Raisi visits the nation, he may be imprisoned and questioned. Interpol's headquarters are located in Lyon, a city in southeastern France that he is reported to have visited multiple times this year.

The case against Raisi, which was initiated at the end of March, extends beyond the torture investigation started against him in November by French prosecutors about the imprisonment of UAE dissident Ahmed Mansoor.

The UAE's foreign ministry dismissed the accusations regarding Mansoor's prison conditions as "without merit" at the time.

The UAE's foreign ministry added, "Any legal complaint containing allegations against al-Raisi is without merit and will be rejected."

In the most recent case, an investigating magistrate is in charge of the investigation, which precedes filing any charges.

The UAE embassy in Paris declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

"Psychological abuse"

Wednesday found both plaintiffs in Paris to testify before the investigating magistrate.

Hedges, an expert on the United Arab Emirates, claims he was jailed and tortured in the country from May to November 2018 after being arrested on espionage accusations during a study trip.

Before he was released due to international pressure spearheaded by the UK, he was coerced into making false confessions that led to a life sentence.

On Wednesday, he told AFP that he was held in solitary confinement for seven months and was forced to take medication. According to him, this was part of a "particular strategy to inflict psychological torture."

Hedges described his ordeal as "terrifying" since interrogations lasted up to 15 hours, and he and his family were threatened with physical harm.

He began self-harming and attempted suicide, "all as a result of the medication."

Hedges stated that Raisi "must have been aware" of his treatment.

Ahmad said that he was severely tortured and even stabbed during a month of incarceration in January 2019, reportedly for supporting the UAE's Gulf rival Qatar in a football match versus Iraq during the AFC Asian Cup.

A police officer injured Ahmad during his detention by cutting the Qatari flag from his T-shirt with a pocket knife; he said to AFP.

During the detention, he was questioned "day and night." "I've been through a very difficult time; it's horrible," he remarked.

Both men have filed legal proceedings against Raisi in Norway, Sweden, and Turkey.

Raisi's four-year tenure at Interpol is primarily ceremonial, with Secretary-General Juergen Stock responsible for the organization's daily operations.

His candidature for the Interpol position sparked outrage from campaigners, who cited Interpol's significant funding from the United Arab Emirates.

Publish : 2022-05-11 23:15:00

Give Your Comments