Former president receives latest jail sentence 'in absentia'


A Tunisian military court yesterday sentenced ousted dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to 20 years in jail in absentia for inciting “murder and looting” during a police attempt to smuggle his nephew out of the country during last year’s revolt.

The case involves the deaths of four protesters who were shot by police as they tried to prevent Qais Ben Ali – now in jail in Tunisia – from fleeing on January 15th, 2011, a day after the president left the country.

Several of the former president’s aides were also sentenced to five to 10 years, the official TAP news agency said.

Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia as protests engulfed Tunisia, has already been sentenced to decades in jail – also in absentia – on charges ranging from corruption to torture and he faces further charges.

Last month a Tunisian military prosecutor demanded the death penalty be imposed on Ben Ali for his role in the deaths of hundreds of protesters in the central Tunisian towns where the Arab Spring began last year.

There is, however, little indication that Riyadh would extradite him. – (Reuters)