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Exiled Syrian vice president condemns sentence

Latest update : 2008-08-31

Abdel Halim Khaddam, who resigned from the government in June 2005 to become a Paris-based opposition leader, says a life jail term issued against him for "treason" is proof of an increasingly repressive regime in Damascus.

Syrian ex-vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam said Sunday a life jail term issued against him for "treason" is proof the Damascus government is transforming the country into a prison for its people.

"This verdict does not worry me or affect my determination," the former senior official turned opposition figure, who now lives in exile in Paris, said in a statement sent to AFP by his office.

The sentence of life in prison with hard labour showed "the isolation of the Syrian regime, which is transforming the country into a huge prison and increasing its repression of the people," the statement said.

A Syrian lawyer close to the prosecution Hossam Eddine Habash said on Saturday that a military tribunal held in Damascus had on August 17 sentenced Khaddam, 73, to hard labour for life on 13 charges, including high treason.

Khaddam, who was one of the key figures of the "old guard" Baath party which held power in Syria, resigned in June 2005 to become a Paris-based opposition leader.

According to the charge sheet, Khaddam had been accused of "conspiracy to unlawfully seize political power" and of having "illegitimate links with the Zionist enemy, undermining the prestige of the state and of national sentiment and worst of all, plotting with a foreign country to launch an aggression against Syria."

Khaddam founded the Syrian National Salvation Front, an opposition coalition group which includes the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.


Date created : 2008-08-31