Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tunisia hands ex-president Ben Ali, wife, new 10-year jail term for corruption

Photo by By Fethi Belaid (AFP/File)

Tunisian ex-president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and his wife, already convicted in absentia several times, have been issued new 10-year prison sentences for corruption, authorities said Thursday.

They were found guilty Tuesday by a court in Tunis in a case involving "administrative and financial corruption", said prosecution spokesman Sofiene Sliti.

Ben Ali, who ruled Tunisia with an iron fist for 23 years, has been living in exile with his wife in Saudi Arabia since fleeing during the 2011 revolution.

The case also saw two other officials convicted, including a former minister for the environment who was jailed for five years and another ministry official was sentenced to three.

A relative of the exiled president's wife, Leila Trabelsi, was also sentenced to three years in prison.

A ministerial source said the case related to the "commercial use" of the Club Elyssa, in the grounds of a state-owned nature park in the suburbs of Tunis.

Trabelsi used to organise social gatherings at the club.

In November, the venue hosted the first public hearings of the Truth and Dignity Commission on human rights violations during six decades of dictatorship.

Since Ben Ali and his wife fled, they have been convicted in several cases, mostly for corruption.

Ben Ali was also sentenced to life imprisonment for the crackdown on demonstrations during the 2011 revolution, in which 338 people were killed.

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