Tunisian court sentences Ben Ali in absentia

The ousted president is sentenced to 16 years in prison for corruption and property fraud.

    A Tunisian court has sentenced former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in absentia  [EPA]

    A Tunisian court has sentenced ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, his daughter and son-in-law in absentia, to serve prison terms and to pay a collective $100m in damages.

    The court, on Thursday, found the trio guilty of corruption in property deals. A nephew of Ben Ali was also convicted of drug charges in the proceedings.

    Ben Ali has already been convicted in absentia twice in Tunisian courts in recent weeks, for embezzlement and gun and drug smuggling.

    He fled to Saudi Arabia in January after a popular uprising against his autocratic, 23-year rule that sparked revolts around the Arab world.

    Corruption in Ben Ali's inner circle was one of the drivers of anger at his regime that fueled the protests earlier this year.

    The former leader was accused in two different cases of intervening personally to secure property for his family members at prices well below market value.

    His daughter Nesrine and her husband Sakhr Materi were also convicted and sentenced to eight years and 16 years in prison, respectively.

    All three were collectively ordered to pay about $100m in damages and interest to the Tunisian state.

    Saudi Arabia

    Ben Ali fled with members of his close family to Saudi Arabia, where he is now in exile. He and his wife Leila Trabelsi were each sentenced to 35 years in jail last month after being found guilty of theft and illegal possession of jewellery and large sums of cash. Another trial found Ben Ali guilty of possessing drugs and weapons.

    Ben Ali faces more than 100 charges in civil and military cases, some of which could result in a death sentence, including his role in deaths during the uprisings.

    A Lebanese lawyer for Ben Ali has said his client is being unfairly targeted.

    Ben Ali's nephew, Sofiene Ben Ali, appeared in court Thursday to face charges that his lawyers say are unfounded.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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