Tunisia′s exiled dictator sentenced to life in prison | News | DW | 13.06.2012
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Tunisia's exiled dictator sentenced to life in prison

Tunisia's former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has been given a life sentence in absentia by a military court. He had already been sentenced to 86 years on other charges.

The military court sentenced Ben Ali on Wednesday for the deadly suppression of protests in central Tunisian towns where the Arab Spring began last year, the TAP news agency said.

Prosecutors had called for the death penalty over the killing of 22 people when police tried to suppress protests in the towns of Thala and Kasserine.

The life jail term came on top of previous sentences for numerous charges that added up to 86 years in prison. Earlier on Wednesday the court pronounced a 20 year jail term for Ben Ali for the killing of four youths in a police attempt to smuggle the former president's nephew, Kais, out the country during the popular unrest in mid-January 2011.

The young people were shot dead in the eastern coastal town of Ouardanine as a crowd tried to prevent Kais' flight.

The victims' relatives accused the then-security apparatus of ordering police to fire on the crowd. Ben Ali had fled Tunisia on the previous day to Saudi Arabia, where he now lives.

Saudi Arabia unresponsive

The ousting of Ben Ali, which began in December 2010, was the first in the string of protests across the Arab world that became known as the Arab Spring.

He has been convicted of crimes ranging from drug trafficking and embezzlement to incitement to murder.

He and his wife are wanted on an international warrant, but Saudi authorities have not responded to Tunisia's extradition requests.

ipj, ncy/sej (Reuters, APF)

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