Tunisia’s Ben Ali Convicted for Corrupt Property Deals

Posted July 28th, 2011 at 8:20 pm (UTC-5)
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A Tunisian court has sentenced former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, his daughter and son-in-law in absentia to serve prison terms and ordered them to pay $100 million in damages for illicit property deals.

The court Thursday convicted Mr. Ben Ali of corruption and abuse of power. He was accused in two separate cases of intervening personally to secure property for his family members at prices well below market value.

Both he and his son-in-law – once-prominent businessman Sakher el-Materi – received 16-year terms. His daughter, Nesrine, was sentenced to eight years in jail.

It was Mr. Ben Ali's third conviction in recent weeks. In two previous trials, the former strongman was sentenced to long prison terms for embezzlement as well as gun and drug smuggling. His wife, Leila Trabelsi, was also found guilty of theft and illegal possession of jewelry and large sums of cash.

Mr. Ben Ali faces more than 100 charges in civil and military cases, some of which could result in the death sentence. His lawyer says his client is being unfairly targeted.

The former president held power for 23 years before fleeing to Saudi Arabia in January, in the wake of a massive, popular uprising that has sparked revolts across the Arab world.

Corruption in Mr. Ben Ali's inner circle was one of the drivers that fueled the Tunisian protests.