New Interpol boss investigated in France for 'torture' and 'barbarism'

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By AFP  with Euronews
Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, pictured during the first day of the Interpol annual assembly in Istanbul in November.
Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, pictured during the first day of the Interpol annual assembly in Istanbul in November.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File

The new president of Interpol has been placed under investigation in France over allegations of "torture" and "acts of barbarism".

Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi has been accused by an NGO of mistreating one of the main opponents of the Emirati regime.

France's anti-terrorism prosecutor's office (Pnat) has opened a preliminary investigation, AFP sources reported on Friday.

Al-Raisi was only appointed Interpol's president in November, despite backlash from several human rights groups that he undermined the organisation's mission.

He has also served as inspector general at the United Arab Emirates' interior ministry since 2015.

In January, the NGO Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) filed a complaint, accusing Al-Raisi of involvement in torture targeting Ahmed Mansoor, an activist who has been imprisoned since 2017.

In 2018, Mansoor was sentenced to ten years in prison for criticising the UAE authorities and tarnishing the image of his country on social media.

William Bourdon -- a lawyer for the NGO -- has criticised French authorities for not arresting the Interpol president as part of the probe.

Bourdon told AFP thatAl-Raisi did not have diplomatic immunity from prosecution as he was one of those people currently responsible for Mansoor's torture in "medieval" conditions. 

GCHR also claims that Al-Raisi "directly supervised the increased repression of rights and freedoms and their defenders in the United Arab Emirates.

The NGO had previously filed a complaint against Al-Raisi when he was considered a candidate for the Interpol presidency last June. The previous complaint was dismissed because the person concerned was not resident in France and was not on French soil.

The UAE foreign ministry has rejected the "baseless" claims made by NGOs about the activist.

The position of Interpol president is part-time and unpaid and is largely essentially honorary, as opposed to the organisation's secretary-general, Jürgen Stock.