News / Africa

Tunisia's Former President Denies Charges Ahead of Monday Trial

Former Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali (file photo)
Former Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali (file photo)
Lisa Bryant

Former Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali has denied all charges against him on the eve of his trial in absentia. Mr. Ben Ali's lawyer said Sunday the former president hopes Tunisia will overcome its "chaos."

Six months after massive popular protests ousted Ben Ali, the North African country is bringing him to trial - but in absentia. Many Tunisians feel the event will help bring closure to a bitter past.

Tunisian authorities say both a civilian and military court will hear the case against Ben Ali, which begins on Monday.  But he, in exile in Saudi Arabia, will not be present for the trial's opening. Saudi authorities have not responded to Tunisia's extradition request.

Ben Ali faces dozens of charges, including conspiring against the state, voluntary manslaughter and drug trafficking. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to years in prison. One of Ben Ali's lawyers told the Associated Press the ex-president will plead not guilty.

The former strongman held power for 23 years before fleeing to Saudi Arabia in January, in the wake of a massive, popular uprising. Now, human rights advocates like Mokhtar Trifi, president of the Tunisian Human Rights League, lament Ben Ali's absence at the trial.

Trifi says it is too bad Ben Ali will not be present in court to face the accusations, although he welcomes the legal proceedings against the former president. He says he hopes the United States and other foreign powers will pressure Saudi Arabia to extradite him.

Many Tunisians believe Ben Ali and his extended clan improperly amassed vast fortunes. During the January uprising, protesters ransacked and set fire to dozens of their businesses and luxurious villas.

Although calm has returned to much of Tunisia, there is still unrest in parts of the country. Soldiers and the occasional tank can still be seen patrolling the capital, Tunis.  The country is now preparing for October elections for a constituent assembly, tasked to write a new constitution and prepare for legislative and presidential elections.

Thirty-year-old Moiz Rezgui is happy Ben Ali will be brought to trial -- whether the ex-president is present or not. He says the fact Ben Ali will face justice for his deeds will satisfy the Tunisian public.

Noureddine Hamila, a member of Tunisia's Progressive Democratic Party, remembers being beaten and harassed during Ben Ali's era. Hamila also says he would have preferred for Ben Ali to be present at the trial. But he says the trial is part of the past - and Tunisia must now light the way to its future.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid