The uncle of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad has sold a Paris mansion for £60million, it emerged today.
Rifaat al-Assad, 75, was christened ‘the Butcher of Hama’ after allegedly ordering the massacre of 25,000 people – making him as reviled as his increasingly bloodthirsty nephew.
But this has not stopped him acquiring a vast property portfolio in numerous cities across the world including Paris and London.
It is understood Rifaat has made a multi-million pound profit by selling the seven storey home at 38 Avenue Foch – one of the finest properties in the French capital.
He originally put the building up for sale at 90 million, but accepted a reduction of just over 30 per cent and accepted £60 million.
It will infuriate the victims of his family’s increasingly desperate attempts to win the civil war which has been raging in Syria for the past two-and-a-half years.
The buyer of the house is said to be a Russian tycoon who is apparently unconcerned about paying so much to an alleged war criminal.
‘Rifaat al-Assad has a fortune which is calculated in billions of euros, for which opponents of the Assad family would love to know the origin,’ according to French newspaper Liberation.
Rifaat also owns a £10million town house in Mayfair, London. The parents of Syrian first lady Asma Al-Assad, who was born and brought up in the English capital, also still live in the city.
Rifaat is said to have attacked and killed thousands of civilians in Hama in 1982. Entire neighbourhoods were razed and there were mass executions of the regime’s opponents.
He became known as ‘The Butcher of Hama’, despite denying being in the city at the time.
Rifaat was stripped of power and exiled to Europe after trying to oust his brother, Hafez, in a coup attempt in 1983.
Assad invested in a London-based television station, Arab News Network, and bought property in the capital.
He is thought to be selling up in France, where he also owns a country estate and several flats, because the French government is trying to clean-up its image as a bolt-hole for international criminals.
In recent months there have been a number of attempts to seize property belonging to discredited African dictators, including other homes on Avenue Foch.
Rifaat has a large team of bodyguards, who reputedly include food tasters to ensure he is not poisoned, and experts in kung fu.
Since the Syrian uprising, the European Union has imposed asset freezes on those ‘responsible for the violent repression of the civilian population in Syria’, but Rifaat’s portfolio has largely remained intact.
Today Rifaat could not be contacted for comment on the sale of his house.
But in previous interviews he has styled himself as a potential successor to his nephew, whose regime has been responsible for thousands of civilian deaths as it tries to crush the uprising which started in early 2011.