France investigates Interpol chief over allegations of complicity in torture | world news

PARIS (Reuters) – French prosecutors have opened an investigation into the president of global police agency Interpol, Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi, over allegations that he may have been an accomplice to torture, an official said.

Raisi, a UAE official, was named president of France-headquartered Interpol in November 2021 despite accusations from rights groups that he failed to follow up on allegations of torture by detained in the United Arab Emirates.

An investigating judge has been appointed to review the case and determine whether or not to charge Raisi after a preliminary investigation opened in March, an official with the Paris anti-terrorism prosecution said.

He confirmed an earlier report by the AFP news agency that the investigation had been launched on the basis of universal jurisdiction following complaints by British nationals Matthew Hedges and Ali Issa Ahmad.

An Interpol spokesperson said: “With regard to the allegations relating to Mr. Al-Raisi, this is a matter between the parties involved, and given that this is a pending case, it would be premature for Interpol to comment.”

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Interpol added that the president’s role is an unpaid, part-time position, with the president remaining a full-time civil servant in his own country.

Raisi is Inspector General at the UAE Ministry of Interior. The UAE Foreign Ministry and Federal Government Media Office did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Hedges, an academic at the University of Exeter, told Reuters in 2021 that he was held in solitary confinement for seven months in 2018 in the United Arab Emirates over spying allegations when he visited in the country to do research for his doctorate.

He said he was threatened with physical violence and harm to his family by the Emirati security services in a building for which Raisi was responsible.

The UAE said Hedges did not suffer any physical or psychological abuse while in custody.

Ali Issa Ahmad told Reuters in 2021 that he was detained while on vacation while traveling to the United Arab Emirates to watch the Asian Cup in 2019 because he was wearing a T-shirt with a flag of the Qatar, at a time when there was a diplomatic row between the two countries. .

He said he was electrocuted, beaten and deprived of food, water and sleep for several days while in detention.

The UAE said any legal complaint filed with allegations against Raisi “is baseless and will be dismissed”.

Human Rights Watch said hundreds of activists, academics and lawyers are serving long sentences in UAE prisons, often following unfair trials on vague and blanket charges. The UAE said these accusations were false and unfounded.

(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Geert De Clercq,; Additional reporting by Lisa Barrington,; Editing by Ingrid Melander, Alexandra Hudson)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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