Syrian arms dealer wanted by US on hunger strike

12th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

12 September 2007, MADRID -(AFP) - A Syrian arms dealer who was arrested in Spain in June at the request of US authorities has begun a hunger strike, a Spanish prison administration official said.

12 September 2007

MADRID -(AFP) - A Syrian arms dealer who was arrested in Spain in June at the request of US authorities has begun a hunger strike, a Spanish prison administration official said.

Spanish police detained Monzer al-Kassar, known as the "Prince of Marbella" because of his opulent lifestyle, on June 8 as he arrived at Madrid airport on an internal flight.

US authorities believe the long-time Spanish resident had been conspiring to sell millions of euros' worth of weapons to Colombia's main Marxist guerrilla movement, the FARC.

"He announced in writing that he would go on a hunger strike," the Spanish prison administration official told AFP.

Al-Kassar is refusing to eat to protest alleged "psychological pressure" put on him and his family by US Drug Enforcement Administration agents, daily Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported earlier on Tuesday.

New York prosecutors have charged him with conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, money laundering and conspiracy to acquire an anti-aircraft missile and kill US nationals.

He faces life imprisonment if convicted.

The FARC, whose full name is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and other extremist groups have been blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths during four decades of political violence in the South American country.

According to prosecutors, Kassar has been an arms dealer since the early 1970s, providing weapons and military equipment to various factions in Nicaragua, Brazil, Cyprus, Bosnia, Croatia, Somalia, Iran, and Iraq.

[Copyright AFP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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