The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Police monitors the arms merchant Abdul Rahman El Assir during his visits to Juan Carlos I at his residence in Abu Dhabi, but has not arrested or interrogated him despite the two international search and arrest warrants issued by Interpol against him, according to what eyewitnesses told EL PAÍS.
Abdul Rahman el Assir, 71, a friend of the king emeritus, continues to visit the former head of state and during his outings to the sea they are escorted by an Emirati police boat that has been monitoring the movements of the Hispanic-Lebanese since this newspaper revealed the last December its presence in Abu Dhabi (1.5 million inhabitants). This police presence only occurs during El Assir’s visits, which, at least, have taken place until Juan Carlos I’s recent trip to Spain.
A representation of the Spanish Police has just demanded the arrest of the arms dealer during a recent police summit held in Saudi Arabia by CCGPOL, an interpolice agency similar to Interpol created by the Gulf countries to share information, improve cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking, money laundering and cybercrime.
CCGPOL is based in Abu Dhabi and was created in 2014 by the Gulf Cooperation Council, which groups Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. The Spanish agents attended this meeting on behalf of the European Network of Active Fugitive Search Teams (Enfast), which comprises 28 countries of the European Union and is chaired by Spain. “We exposed the case of El Assir and showed our interest in his immediate arrest,” says a police source.
The United Arab Emirates belongs to Interpol, like most Arab countries, but its collaboration is less active than that of the rest of its other 194 partners. Dubai, one of the main cities of the UAE, is an example of the absence of police collaboration in this federation of seven emirates. The US Drug Enforcement Administration considers this city a paradise for criminals and international traffickers, according to police sources.
After successive sit-ins at the court where he was to be tried for a crime against the Treasury for defrauding 14.7 million euros, the Spanish Justice issued a search and arrest warrant for rebellion in 2019. The Prosecutor’s Office requests a sentence of eight years in prison and the payment of almost 90 million, and compensation to the Treasury of 14,784,602 euros.
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The interest in arresting the elusive El Assir is not only from Spain. The French police have just asked the Spanish police for the fingerprints of the arms dealer as part of a new investigation opened in that country. In 2020, the French Justice issued another “search and arrest for extradition” order against El Assir. The fugitive was sentenced in absentia in France to five years in prison for the karachigate, a scandal of corruption and arms sales in Pakistan. He is being pursued for a financial and property crime. Part of the commissions for the sale of submarines financed the campaign for the presidency of the Republic of former Prime Minister Édouard Balladur. The latter was acquitted at the trial held in Paris.
Debt in Switzerland and a regular at Sotogrande
In Switzerland, where he established his residence when he was cornered by the Spanish Justice, he has also left a trace. During the first years of the escape he lived in the BeauRivage, the mythical Genevan hotel on the shores of Lake Leman where Empress Sissi stayed. In this country it owes 2.2 million in taxes, according to the Swiss media Bergen Zeitung.
El Assir, ex-husband of Samira Kashogui, sister of the famous arms dealer Adnan Kashogui, based in Marbella and who died in 2017, is credited with a key role in Spanish military exports in recent decades. As a regular in the exclusive Sotogrande urbanization and jealous of his image, he has managed to ensure that there are only two old photographs of him in the newspaper archives. In 1985 he married María Fernández-Longoria, daughter of the Spanish ambassador in Egypt, with whom he has had three children and from whom he is separated.
He attended as a guest in 2004 the wedding of the then Prince Felipe de Borbón with Letizia Ortiz, thanks to his friendship with Juan Carlos I. In 2016 he celebrated the wedding of one of his daughters in the Swiss ski resort of Gstaad and chartered a plane to Dozens of guests, including the daughter of José María Aznar, María Aznar, and her husband, Alejandro Agag, whose link he attended in El Escorial (Madrid), according to the gossip media.
The whereabouts of this singular character linked to high society was unknown since his fright at the Spanish and French courts. When an investigation by EL PAÍS revealed his hiding place, Interpol asked Abu Dhabi to arrest him, but the response has been silence. Emirati General Ahmed Naser Al Raisi is the current president of Interpol and inspector general of the UAE Ministry of the Interior, but that circumstance has not prevented a fugitive wanted by two European countries for serious crimes from walking freely through the lobby of the Four Seasons on Al Maryah Island or visit Abu Dhabi’s splendid Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
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