Bashar Assad’s uncle hired Israeli lawyers for criminal defense in France

Rifaat Assad hired the legal services of Israeli attorney Mordechai Tzivin and French-Israeli attorney Gilles-William Goldnadel.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

Rifaat Assad, the exiled uncle of Syrian President Bashar Assad, hired Israeli lawyers to aid in his defense against criminal charges in France, the Jerusalem Post reported Sunday.

Assad was sentenced to four-years in prison on June 17 for illegally using Syrian state funds to build a French real estate empire worth 90 million euros.

In addition to well-known French attorneys, Assad hired the legal services of Israeli attorney Mordechai Tzivin and French-Israeli attorney Gilles-William Goldnadel.

According to the report, he also received legal advice from an unnamed former member of Knesset from the Likud Party and a former senior official in a government office in Jerusalem.

The 82-year-old Assad was unable to attend his sentencing in June after being hospitalized with internal bleeding in December.

Though unlikely to serve his prison sentence due to his age and medical condition, Assad’s assets in France and London were seized by the authorities.

His holdings include two Paris townhouses, a stud farm, a chateau, and 7,300 square meters of office space.

He denies any wrongdoing and plans to appeal the conviction, saying he received the money as gifts from the Saudi royal family.

In 2017, authorities in Spain seized property valued at 695 million euros from Assad and his family as part of a separate investigation into alleged money-laundering activities.

Beginning in the early ’70s, Assad was once the second most powerful man in Syria, next to his older brother Hafez Assad, the former Syrian president.

Rifaat Assad became known as the “butcher of Hama” due to his alleged role in putting down an uprising in 1982, during which tens of thousands of Syrians were killed.

After leading a failed coup against his brother in 1984, he has lived mostly in France and Spain.