He lived in Ciudad del Este, ended up imprisoned in the Tacumbú prison after being accused of piracy and on suspicion of terrorism, and his whereabouts were unknown after escape to Foz de Iguazú
Ali Khalil Merhi, in a black shirt, during an act of the Colorado Party (ABC/File)
The story can easily be taken to the big screen or to any streaming platform because it has all the ingredients for it. It could be said that the Lebanese Ali Khalil Mehri, who is no longer called that because he changed his name, lived on everything.
It's because he was in the Tacumbu Paraguayan prison after being accused of piracy and on suspicion of terrorism; then he became a fugitive from justice of the South American country; and then, incredible as it may seem, he began a diplomatic career. He was honorary consul of Sudan in Lebanon and honorary consul of Paraguay in Sudan, according to an investigation published Wednesday by the newspaper ABC Color, which adds that he currently has a dozen businesses in Sudan with the daughter of the president of that country.
Now he likes to call himself Ali Myreebut, despite this change of identity, all the data agrees that it is him, including that of the woman he married in the Tacumbu penitentiary, when he was in prison.
Until 48 hours ago -adds the newspaper-, the information was that Ali Khalil Mehri had gone from being accused of piracy, a counterfeiter, suspected of acts related to the financing of arms of the terrorist group Hezbollah, to being imprisoned in Tacumbu and later a fugitive from Paraguayan justice. “ One fine day, he reappeared as Sudan's honorary consul in Lebanon ”, emphasized ABC .
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Following the cited outlet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay acknowledged that Ali Khalil Mehri is also a former honorary consul of Paraguay in South Sudan, although “they could not find the records of his appointment or the end of his functions in the Directorate of Consular Policy. We believed that the information was confusing, we again accessed official sources that reconfirmed the information”, they pointed out from the newspaper.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), together with ProPublica , carried out an investigation that revealed that many people used their positions for influence peddling, committing crimes or, at least, irregularities for their own benefit.
Paraguay reported 63 honorary consuls who represent the country in the world, but the newspaper found publications on the Internet that cite at least a dozen more in various parts of the planet who are not on the official list.
Tacumbú prison, where the Lebanese was imprisoned (EFE/Nathalia Aguilar/Archive)
Ali Khalil Mehri in Paraguay
He was born in 1968 in Lebanon but moved to Paraguay, more specifically to Ciudad del Este. Over the years he came to have many contacts within the Colorado Party , while doing business in the triple border.
ABC affirms that the Lebanese claimed to be a merchant, an electronic engineer by profession, and lived in the center of the east city, in the Panorama building. He used to participate in party events in Ciudad del Este, where he accompanied Ángel Ramón Barchini, a lawyer, former judge, former ambassador to Qatar and currently a senator candidate. In 1997, Barchini requested that Mehri be appointed Consul General of Paraguay in Beirut.
Mehri's record is extensive. He was accused and denounced for cases of mega-piracy. Following the aforementioned medium, they pointed to it as one of the most prominent distributors of counterfeit products in the triple border: from CDs, to PlayStation games, Nintendo cassette software, logos and packaging for various technology companies. However, he adds ABC, “What worried the United States the most was the discovery of videos of suicide bombers before they died, raising funds for a supposed branch of Hezbollah that helps relatives of deceased operatives and even a bank account number of that branch”.
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The Lebanese man was arrested on February 25, 2000in the context of a raid where the police placed explosives at the door of his apartment to enter.
ABC reports that he went to the Tacumbú prison while also was being investigated by the Argentine courts, since his brother Mustafa Khalil Mehri was arrested for a connection to the AMIA bombing in 1994. According to The Sentry (an organization based in Washington, focused on violence and corruption), the Argentine justice tried to question Ali Khalil Mehri but that did not prosper with the Paraguayan justice.
The judge in the case released Mehri, who in June of that year 2000 escaped from Paraguay to Foz do Iguazú, Brazil.
Mehri was appointed by South Sudan as honorary consul in Lebanon in 2019< /b>. Currently, he has a dozen businesses and a strong influence in that country with authorities, including military suspects designated by the United Nations.