Politics 19/01/2022

Interpol asks Abu Dhabi for the immediate arrest of arms merchant accompanying former Spanish king

El Assir has been missing since 2018 and is the subject of arrest warrants from the Spanish and French justice systems

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The king emeritus, investigated at the Supreme Court

MadridInterpol has asked Abu Dhabi for the immediate arrest and extradition of the Spanish-Lebanese arms merchant Abdul Rahman El Assir, who has accompanied the former Spanish king Juan Carlos I to this country, and on whom two international arrest warrants have weighed since 2019, according to El País. The newspaper also published a few days ago that El Assir, 71, was hiding in Abu Dhabi, where he has been seen for months with former Spanish king at his private residence, with some sources believing he is using Juan Carlos I as a "shield" to avoid his legal problems. El Assir has a long friendship with the former monarch and he was one of the guests at the wedding of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia in 2004.

The arms merchant has been missing for almost three years and is being pursued by the Spanish and French courts. The Interpol request has been processed by its office in Madrid and the office in the United Arab Emirates has passed it on to the local police. The Spanish police have also contacted the Spanish embassy in Abu Dhabi.

El Assir disappeared on October 4, 2018, the day he had been summoned by a Madrid court to stand trial for a tax offense worth millions of euros. On March 6, 2019, the Provincial Court issued a warrant for his arrest and imprisonment, after he failed to appear on the four times he was summoned. The Prosecutor's Office is asking for an eight-year prison sentence, a €90m fine and compensation to the Treasury of €14.8m.

In addition to the Spanish arrest warrant, the French courts also issued an arrest warrant in mid-2020 over the Karachigate case, related to corruption and arms sales in Pakistan, for which he is accused of a financial and property crime. Part of the commissions he took for the sale of submarines financed the campaign for the French presidency of Prime Minister Édouard Balladur. In Switzerland, the country where he lived for the last few years, he also owes €2.2m in taxes