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Second trial in absentia of Tunisia's Ben Ali begins

Arab World Materials 4 July 2011 14:05
The second trial in absentia of former Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali began in Tunis Monday, with the ousted leader facing another jail sentence if convicted on weapons and drugs charges.
Second trial in absentia of Tunisia's Ben Ali begins

The second trial in absentia of former Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali began in Tunis Monday, with the ousted leader facing another jail sentence if convicted on weapons and drugs charges, DPA reported.

On June 20, Ben Ali was already tried and sentenced to 35 years in prison for theft of public funds.

That trial, which lasted all of a day, also saw his wife Leila sentenced in absentia to 35 years and both fined millions of dollars.

The second trial, related to the discovery of weapons and a large stash of hashish of one of his palaces after he fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14, had been due to begin last week but was postponed after judges went on strike.

Ben Ali denies the charges. His lawyer Hosni Beji said most of the weapons were gifts from foreign dignitaries.

Ben Ali is the first Arab leader ousted in the continuing wave of pro-democracy protests to be tried for crimes committed in office.

His trials have failed to garner much support in Tunisia, with many people disappointed by his absence.

Saudi Arabia has ignored calls by Tunisia for his extradition.

Ben Ali and his entourage face scores of trials on charges over his autocratic 23-year rule, including charges of premeditated murder and torture.

The interim government running the country until October elections has said some of the cases will be heard by a military tribunal.

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