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Court blocks aid for Bin Ladin probe

Yeslam Bin Ladin has been a Swiss citizen since 2001

(Keystone)

Switzerland’s Federal Court has halted judicial assistance for a French probe into firms said to be linked to Osama Bin Laden’s half brother.

Yeslam Bin Ladin, who lives in the Swiss city of Geneva, has consistently denied charges of money laundering.

The origins of the Federal Court ruling date back to November 2004, when the public prosecutor in Paris asked the Swiss authorities for information concerning bank accounts in Geneva belonging to two companies.

The firms are said to be linked to Bin Ladin, a Saudi who is a naturalised Swiss.

The Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office, which was charged with dealing with the French request, duly obtained the information from the banks.

It also handed over the official document with the request for judicial assistance to the two companies concerned, but in a truncated form with several passages omitted.

Appeal

The two companies appealed to the Lausanne-based Federal Court, arguing that the Prosecutor’s Office had failed to put them in the full picture about the nature of the investigation.

In the ruling made public on Thursday, the court upheld the appeal. The judges concluded that there was no need to censor the document sent to the firms.

Judicial assistance has now been temporarily suspended to give the two companies time to consult the full dossier.

Bin Ladin, who has lived in Switzerland since 1985, is no stranger to controversy.

His attempt to use the Bin Ladin name as a trademark was blocked after the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001.

The decision to block the attempt was overturned in February this year. He has since launched a perfume under the name Yeslam.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Yeslam Bin Ladin, born in 1950, has lived in Geneva since 1985 and became Swiss in 2001.
He has 53 siblings, among them half-brother Osama Bin Laden.
Yeslam Bin Ladin says he has not seen Osama Bin Laden since 1981.
His company, Saudi Investment Company, has been in the spotlight for alleged links to Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda network.
The French are investigating Bin Ladin’s possible links to alleged money laundering for terrorism.

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