Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Prison terms for former president

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has been convicted in absentia of abuse of power and sentenced to 16 years in prison

Tunisia's deposed president, his daughter and son-in-law have been sentenced in absentia to serve prison terms and ordered to pay 100 million US dollars in damages for corruption in property deals.

Former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's nephew was also convicted of drug charges in Thursday's proceedings and sent to prison.

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.

In a third trial, Ben Ali was convicted of abuse of power and sentenced to 16 years in prison. He 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 100 million US dollars in damages and interest to the Tunisian state.

Ben Ali was not present for the trial. Saudi Arabia has not granted requests for his extradition.

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 to face charges that his lawyers say are unfounded. He was sentenced to two years in prison and 1,400 US dollars in fines.

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