The families of four French expats who are unable to leave Qatar for various legal and financial reasons are appealing to the media in their country this week to bring attention to their plight.
The men include French-Algerian football player Zahir Belounis, who said he has not been paid for almost two years by Al Jaish; football trainer Stephane Morello; and entrepreneurs Nasser Al-Awartany and Jean-Pierre Marongiu. All four are being represented by the same lawyer, Frank Berton.
“They thought we would get discouraged,” said Johanna Belounis, wife of Zahir Belounis, as reported by AFP.
According to the newswire, Marongiu cannot obtain an exit permit due to a payment disagreement with his Qatari business partners. Under Qatar’s kafala system, expat employees cannot leave the country without their sponsor’s permission.
At one point, Marongiu apparently fled Qatar on a kayak and sought help from the French embassy in Bahrain.
Berton said that French officials there turned him over to Bahraini authorities, who in turn sent him back to Qatar. But France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denies the charge, saying (as translated into English):
The Embassy of France in Qatar, as well as the Embassy of France in Bahrain, have always responded to requests from Marongiu as they provide assistance to any French citizen who uses their consular services. They brought him all the consular assistance needed and will continue to do so.”
The ministry added that it “cannot help nationals to flee justice.” The French Embassy in Qatar did not immediately return calls for comment.
Marongiu is now back in Qatar, but travel banned from leaving, Le Figaro states. Berton said he plans to visit his clients in Doha in the coming weeks.
Credit: Photo by francois