Former Qatar 2022 employee faces new lawsuit over loan repayment | World Cup 2022

A former employee of the Qatar 2022 World Cup organizing committee, jailed on disputed corruption charges, faces fresh legal action after his former bosses withheld his severance package, meaning he will not repay his loan, according to his family.

Abdullah Ibhais, a former media official, was sentenced last year to a three-year prison term for embezzlement of public funds – a charge he says was concocted to punish him for criticizing management of a strike by migrant workers.

Ibhais now faces the prospect of a new trial, and possibly a new prison sentence, over a bank loan he can no longer repay because the money owed to him at the end of his job was not paid. Ibhais and his family say withholding funds amounts to exerting financial pressure, as he continues to claim his imprisonment stemmed from his views on the treatment of migrant workers.

The case has drawn international attention since Ibhais, a Jordanian national, was found guilty of corruption last August. He also shed light on the conditions faced by the workers who have built the World Cup stadiums in Qatar over the past six years. Ibhais lost an appeal against his conviction in December and continues to maintain his innocence.

A Qatari judge has claimed Ibhais received a bribe during a bidding for a social media contract. However, no evidence was submitted to the court that found him guilty. The evidence supporting his conviction was a confession made by Ibhais, which he has since retracted.

Qatari officials deny any political element to the verdict and say due process was followed in the trial and there is more evidence that was filed in court.

Documents obtained by Dutch newspaper NRC show that the governing body of the 2022 World Cup, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, wrote to Ibhais when he was fired in June 2020, saying his severance payments dismissal would be paid. His family told the newspaper that has yet to happen.

“They punished him because he didn’t want to hide the misery of migrant workers,” said his brother, Ziyad Ibhais. Ten months earlier, Ibhais had been asked to add his weight to the claim that a strike by 5,000 migrant workers over unpaid wages was unrelated to preparations for the World Cup. However, he hesitated and refused growing pressure throughout the day to issue a statement distancing the organizers from the strike.

He was arrested three months later and taken to the headquarters of a criminal investigation. Despite attempts to overhaul the safety and working conditions of the workforce that prepared Qatar’s stadiums, human rights organizations say a series of legislative changes have yet to take place. leads to tangible improvements.

Around 90% of Qatar’s 2.6 million people are made up of foreigners, many of them laborers who have worked hard for more than five years, often in scorching heat, to complete stadiums and supporting infrastructure in time for the World Cup which begins on November 21.

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