Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tunisia's Ben Ali to be tried Monday

Ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi keep a low profile in Saudi city of Jeddah. (file photo)

Source: Press TV

Ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who is in Saudi Arabia, is to go on trial as Riyadh is opposing Tunisians' requests to hand him over.

A criminal court in the capital Tunis is to begin hearing the first of about 93 cases brought against the former Tunisian ruler on Monday, AFP reported Sunday.

Tunisia's new authorities are planning to try Ben Ali and his wife on drugs, guns and graft charges in absentia after the discovery of millions of dollars cash and jewellery, weapons and drugs in presidential palaces.

The ousted Tunisian president is to face nearly 90 charges ranging from murder and torture to money laundering, but his French lawyer Jean-Yves Le Borgne has rejected the accusation, slamming the trial as a "masquerade."

Ben Ali is also accused of being involved in the killing of 300 anti-government protesters during the uprising in the North African country.

Ben Ali fled the country on January 14 after a month-long popular uprising against his 23-year rule that later inspired other revolutions across the Arab world.

He is currently living in a villa in the Red Sea city of Jeddah along with his wife Leila Trabelsi and the Saudi government has not responded to Tunisian requests to hand over the former president.

The Tunisian revolution was the first of a string of uprisings against autocratic rulers in the Middle East and North Africa.

An interim government headed by caretaker Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi now rules Tunisia.

A large number of Tunisians are opposed to the new government as it still includes figures from the ousted regime.

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