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French court investigates torture claim against Interpol official

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PARIS – French investigating magistrates at the Paris court on Wednesday opened an investigation into torture charges against Interpol president Major General Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi of the United Arab Emirates.

Two British nationals, Matthew Hedges and Ali Issa Ahmad, who had both been detained in the United Arab Emirates before al-Raisi was elected president of the France-based World Police Agency, will testify against him at the Specialized Judicial Unit for Crimes Against on Wednesday. Humanity and war crimes from the Paris tribunal, their lawyers said.

The two Britons filed a criminal complaint against al-Raisi for the charges before the Paris court in October under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

In January, they filed a criminal complaint directly with the court’s judges to open an investigation into claims against al-Raisi. The new Interpol president was at the time on French territory and visited the international police agency’s headquarters in Lyon.

Al-Raisi was elected for a four-year term as Interpol president in November. He has been accused by human rights groups of being involved in torture and arbitrary detention in the UAE.

The UAE has denied the allegations.

Hedges was a doctoral student at the UAE when he was jailed for nearly seven months in 2018 on charges of espionage. He said he was tortured and sometimes kept in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer.

Ahmad has said he was detained and tortured by UAE security agents during the 2019 Asian Cup football tournament he had attended in the Gulf country.

Under French law, “an open investigation should lead to al-Raisi’s detention for questioning while he is next on French territory,” said Britain’s international lawyer, Rodney Dixon.

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