There was much coverage of the announcement earlier this month of Bashar al-Assad's amnesty to commute or reduce sentences for thousands of prisoners in Syria, including some with connections to the ongoing uprising against the regime. But there was one untold case of a freed prisoner who has no connections to current events — and certainly no blood on his hands.
Adnan Kassar was released from a Syrian prison this month after serving more than 21 years. His crime? In 1993, Kassar won a horse race against Bassel al-Assad, son of then president Hafez Al-Assad, who was being groomed to take over from his father, Al Arabiya reports.
Kassar’s unlucky win would put him behind bars through two decades of transition in Syria that would include Bassel’s own death in 1994, when his Maserati slammed into a roundabout. President Hafez Al-Assad died six years later, succeeded by his other son, Bassel’s brother Bashar, the ophthalmologist-turned-politician widely denounced for human rights abuses and his ruthless hold on power.
It was in fact Bashar who granted Adnan amnesty this month, following elections that granted him another seven-year term as president. The winner of that race, of course, was never in doubt.
Photo: Portrait of Bashar al-Assad's Bassel — Source: James Gordon