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Middle East

EU court annuls asset freeze on ex Syria minister

Syrian civilians look for their belongings after clashes between the Sunni-dominated Free Syrian Army and Syrian soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad in the town of Hejeira, in the countryside of Damascus November 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Jaber al-Helo)

LUXEMBOURG: An EU court Thursday said that it had overturned a travel ban and asset freeze on a former Syrian minister due to lack of proof of his links with the regime after leaving office.

The European Union's second highest court, the General Court of the European Union, said it "annuls the restrictive measures imposed on Mr Mohammad Nedal al-Chaar solely because of his status as a former Syrian Minister of Economy and Trade."

A court statement said that during the time he held the portfolio, from April 2011 to June 2012, Chaar held responsibility for the actions of the Bashar Assad regime, including its violence against civilians.

But the EU had provided no proof that he maintained close links with the regime after he left office, and Chaar produced two affidavits stating he exercised no significant political responsibilities and was never a member of the ruling Baath party.

Some 190 Syrians, including cabinet ministers and Assad cronies are currently under EU sanctions, along with 53 entities.

But in the first such decision affecting Syrian sanctions, the General Court in June annulled an EU asset freeze on the Syria International Islamic Bank on the grounds there was insufficient proof its clients were linked to the repression of civilians.

The decision followed similar legal victories in 2013 by several Iranian companies.

 

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