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Assad cousin wins case to unfreeze Swiss assets

A cousin of Syria's President Bashar Assad has won a legal bid to unfreeze SFr3 million ($3.3 million) held in bank accounts in Switzerland.

The Federal Criminal Court said it ordered the funds unblocked and granted Hafez Makhlouf SFr1,800 in damages, overturning a decision by prosecutors last September who had suspected him of money laundering.

The court ruling was taken last month but was first reported on Thursday.

Makhlouf, a senior official in the Syrian intelligence service, was barred from entering Switzerland in January as part of sanctions against the regime of Assad.

Makhlouf is also suspected of involvement in the crackdown on anti-government demonstrators over the past year.

Switzerland has blocked some SFr50 million linked to senior regime officials, including Assad. and agencies

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