French rights groups to file suit against Assad

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 26, 2011 12:59 PM
French rights groups to file suit against Assad

PARIS (Reuters) - Two French rights groups will file legal complaints against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and members of his entourage in an attempt to push the government to determine whether they hold assets in France.

Sherpa and Transparency International France, which earlier this year filed complaints against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Tunisia's ousted president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, said in a statement they wanted the government to make public all of its findings.

"The objective is get an investigation open that would then identify assets that they may own in France either in their own name or through intermediaries .... and then to freeze them so they are not transferred to uncooperative jurisdictions," the rights' groups said in a statement on Tuesday.

Paris has led efforts to pass a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Syria's crackdown on pro-reform protests and has pushed for tougher sanctions against Assad's government, saying he has lost his legitimacy.

The European Union has imposed asset freezes and travel bans on Assad and other officials and targeted companies with links to the Syrian military. EU foreign ministers said last week they were considering tightening the sanctions as the crackdown continues.

The four-month-old uprising, emulating uprisings elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, is the biggest challenge to Assad's authority since he succeeded his father 11 years ago.

Rights groups say Assad's forces have killed more than 1,400 civilians since the uprising began, with U.N. human rights advisers saying the crackdown might amount to crimes against humanity.

(Reporting by John Irish, editing by Paul Taylor)