Syrian handed over to Romania after kidnapping journalists in Iraq

A Syrian-born businessman, Omar Hayssam, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for organizing the abduction of three Romanian journalists in Iraq. (File photo: AFP)

A fugitive Syrian-born businessman sentenced to 20 years in prison for ordering the kidnap of three journalists in Iraq was handed over to Romanian authorities on Friday, the presidency said.

Omar Hayssam, who has Romanian citizenship, was sentenced in absentia in 2007 for organizing the abduction of the three Romanian journalists in March 2005 in Baghdad.

The reporters were held captive for 55 days before being released.

A statement from the presidential office did not specify who had handed over Hayssam, but said his capture was the result of a “complex investigation.”

Hayssam was held in Romania in 2005 but was released on health grounds a year later and fled to Syria, where he was reportedly detained.

Last year, the Romanian senate ratified an extradition treaty with Syria.

Hayssam was also sentenced to a further 16 years in jail for fraud in 2012, and to two years for fleeing the country.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:40 - GMT 06:40