Ben Ali trial set to start in Tunis
Former Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was Monday set to go on trial in absentia on the first of several charges arising out of his autocratic 23-year rule, DPA reported.
A court in Tunis is to try Ben Ali and his wife Leila for theft and fraud over the discovery of millions of dollars in cash and jewellery at one of their palaces after they fled the country for Saudi Arabia on January 14.
Ben Ali has also been charged over weapons and drugs seizures at another palace.
The charges, which Ben Ali, 74, denies, each carry sentences of up to 20 years, and are just the first of 93 charges facing the former president and his entourage, including torture and murder.
The trial is the first of a former head of state toppled by pro-democracy protests in the Arab world. Ben Ali was ousted by a month of street protests over corruption, repression and hardship.
For many Tunisians the satisfaction of seeing him face justice has been mitigated by the fact that he will not be present at his trial.
Saudi Arabia has ignored Tunisia's requests to have him extradited.