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Interpol "agrees to hand over former Syrian vice president Khaddam"

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Monday August 28, 2006

Damascus- Interpol has agreed to hand over former Syrian vice-presidment Abdul Halim Khaddam to Syrian judicial authorities to face prosecution on treason and corruption charges, a Syrian attorney claimed Monday. The request had been made last May to Interpol's office in France, where 73-year-old Khaddam, a top member of Syria's ruling elite for nearly 30 years, is living in exile.

Khaddam caused an outcry last December when he told a pan-Arab satellite channel that President Bashar Assad had threatened former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri months before Hariri was assassinated last year. Assad has denied the allegation.

On Monday, attorney Hossam al-Deen Habash, who filed the lawsuit against Khaddam, said the Interpol office in Damascus had received a response "agreeing to monitor, and launch periodical monitoring" of Khaddam.

When asked what that meant, he said that "Interpol will follow and monitor Khaddam and when he is spotted it will arrest him and hand him over to Damascus office to be turned to Syrian judicial authorities."

The Interpol request follows two earlier summons issued by a Syrian court.

The most recent, published in the government newspaper Tishrin on May 7, said that Khaddam, his wife and 23 family members - including sons, daughters and their husbands, as well as grandchildren - must appear in court in the northern town of Banias on June 12.

Syrian state media promptly denounced Khaddam and Syrian legislators called for him to be prosecuted for treason.

A Syrian military court charged Khaddam last month with plotting to take power and - in an apparent reference to the US - with inciting a foreign attack against Syria.

Syrian authorities have seized real estate owned by Khaddam's son and registered in the names of some of his employees, the Tishrin newspaper reported Sunday.

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur