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Former Tunisian Security Chief Acquitted on Forgery Charges

Photo Courtesy - FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images(TUNIS) -- On Friday, the former head of the Tunisian presidential guard was acquitted on charges he assisted ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his family with forged passports.

Ben Ali, who had ruled the country for 23 years, fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14 after a civil uprising which is credited for igniting regional protests known as the "Arab Spring".  Former security chief Ali Seriati's charges were dropped by a Tunisian court though he still faces other charges including plotting against state security and inciting criminal acts during the uprising. If convicted, 70-year-old Seriati may receive a death sentence.

The court also convicted 23 relatives of Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi for charges of attempting to flee the country, jewelry trafficking and possession of foreign currency. Sentences ranged from four months to six years in prison.

Despite being convicted in absentia of minor charges in June, Ben Ali and his wife still face more serious charges which carry a death sentence.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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