Tunisia’s ousted President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia in January, is to go on trial in absentia on 20th June.
Announcing the date, interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi said Saudi Arabia had not replied to requests to hand him over. Charges range from conspiring against the state to drug trafficking.
A lawyer for Mr. Ben Ali, whose 23 year rule ended in mass protests, has dismissed the trial as “masquerade”. Both the former leader and his wife faces charges.
Mr. Essebsi for the first time announced that the trial will start on June 20th. Also stated that the trial will be held in a Military and in a Civilian Court. The Tunisian authorities say that the first charges will relate to the discovery of cash, weapons and drugs in Presidential palaces. Almost 2kg of drugs and $27m in cash were allegedly found.
The authorities are also investigating cases of murder, abuse of power, trafficking of archaeological artefacts and money laundering. The lawyer of Mr. Ben reported to the media that the charges leveled against him were not real and it was just to discredit him. Several member of Mr. Ben’s family and some of his closest pals were arrested shortly after he was forced out. A number of European countries have also frozen assets belonging to the ex-leader.
Report by Alka