Interpol says new president may have overseen torture in his country

LONDON — The new president of Interpol has been accused of leading a military prison and personally overseeing torture that took place while he was a senior Saudi Arabian military official.

The allegation against Interpol’s general secretary Jurgen Stock came from the Council of Europe’s outgoing chair, an official from Iceland. It was made during a closed session on Friday in Strasbourg as part of a clash over new powers and tighter police powers that the Council of Europe wants to give to member states.

“I have received information that the Interpol General Secretary, Jurgen Stock, was in charge of the justice ministry of one of the subjects of my ongoing investigations, in the Sultanate of Oman,” said Thorbjorn Jagland, who was the chair of the council in the run-up to Friday’s vote on the reforms.

He went on to add: “This appears to have been the secret detention center in Sohar, which I have already referred to you during other meetings.”

Stock’s information appeared to be based on a leaked email from an Omani official that detailed the alleged torture that took place in the center.

Stock is under investigation by a Saudi military prosecutor after he was found in possession of a large cash stash during the investigation. He is said to have been accused of embezzlement in an alleged embezzlement scandal at state defense contractor Saad.

Press reports have alleged that a member of Saudi’s al-Saud family allegedly sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to Stock while he was working for Saudi Arabian Military Industries, a defense conglomerate which he helped found.

Stock has maintained that the cash had no connection to the Saudi military sector, although he acknowledged making a mistake by keeping part of it in his suitcase when he was arrested.

In response to the allegations against him, Stock has cited his experience of working in a number of countries and said “there are no allegations of abuse of power that I myself have committed.”

Last December, the Council of Europe suspended his security clearance to work with security agencies, and his deputy title, after allegations were made by Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Awaiti, a Qatari exile and critic of Qatar.

The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner Thomas Hammarberg had appealed to Stock to step down from the presidency of Interpol on “the grounds that his candidacy threatens the continued credibility of Interpol.”

Interpol is made up of 48 countries, of which 36 countries are members.

Stock is the first Emirati to lead Interpol. Last June, the secretary general of the South African Police (Hashmatia Tahir) was forced to resign after he allegedly planted evidence against a senior figure in South Africa’s opposition party.

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