Entries in Zine Al Abedine Ben Ali (3)


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


Former Tunisian President Ben Ali to Be Tried in Absentia

GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images(TUNIS) -- Tunisia’s interim prime minister, Beji Caid Essebsi, has announced that former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali will face trial in absentia on June 20.

Ben Ali and his family fled to Saudi Arabia following the January uprisings that forced him to resign after 23 years in office. Tunisia asked Saudi Arabia to extradite Ben Ali to Tunisia, but so far they have not responded.

Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi face over 90 charges ranging from drug trafficking to money laundering as well as crimes of murder and torture. If convicted of the lesser crimes, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

Mr. Ben Ali’s lawyer, Jean-Yves Le Borgne, says the charges against him were a masquerade and that his client was a sacrificial lamb.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tunisia: Thousands Hit Streets to Protest Unemployment, Corruption

Photo Courtesy - FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images(TUNIS, Tunisia) -- Tunisia has been rocked by protests that have apparently forced longtime leader Zine Al Abedine Ben Ali to step down. There are unconfirmed reports by state media that he has fled the country, and the nation's prime minister said he is now in control.

Rioters took to the streets protesting unemployment and rising food prices. The situation escalated into chaos. Police clashed with rioters, some of whom climbed the walls of the Interior Ministry, reportedly the site of torture for years.

Reading a statement on television, Tunisia's prime minister, Mohammed Ghannouchi, announced he would take over the position of president as Ben Ali "cannot practice his authorities."

The government reports at least 23 people have been killed in the rioting, but opposition members said the death toll could be triple that. On Friday, Air France, one of the main airlines serving the country, said it suspended flights to Tunisia following the closure of its airspace.

The whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks is credited with stirring the anger of the Tunisian people. Users of Facebook and other social networking sites spread comments about U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks which described corruption in Tunisia, and called the country a "police state."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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