EU top court affirms asset freeze of Bashar al-Assad’s cousin
© WikiMedia (Cédric Puisney)

EU top court affirms asset freeze of Bashar al-Assad’s cousin

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) [website] on Thursday affirmed [judgment, in French] a decision to freeze assets [ECJ press release] of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s cousin, Rami Makhlouf.

The ECJ referred to Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1836 [text] of 12 October 2015 that amended Decision 2013/255/CFSP [text] discussing restrictive measures against Syria. Relying heavily on Article 27 and 28, a travel ban and asset freeze are mandated of “persons responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population in Syria, persons benefiting from or supporting the regime, and persons associated with them.” The relevant parties the decision called for these measures to be taken against are ” (a) leading businesspersons operating in Syria” and ” (b) members of the Assad or Makhlouf families.” The exception to this decision is if it can be proven that the person is not associated with the regime, does not have influence over the regime, and poses no risk.

Makhlouf failed to meet the burden of proof in showing that he was not connected to the regime and was found to be associated with and supporting the regime. Thus, the ECJ dismissed his appeal affirming the previous judgment upholding the asset freeze and travel ban.