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Tunisia Court Sentences Ousted President to 15 Years

Former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's lawyers Hosni Beji (L) and Abdsatar Messaoudi talk as the second trial of Tunisia's former president opened in Tunis, July 4, 2011

A Tunisian court on Monday sentenced ousted president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali to 15 years in prison.

The former leader was not present for the trial where he faced charges of trafficking in drugs, weapons and archaeological artifacts.

It was the second trial against Ben Ali since he went into exile in Saudi Arabia in January amid mass protests against his 23-year rule. His lawyers said Monday that Ben Ali was not being given a fair trial, and withdrew from the hearing in Tunis.

Last month, the former president and his wife, Leila Trabelsi, were convicted in absentia of embezzlement and other charges after jewels and public funds were found in one of their palaces. They were each sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Ben Ali denounced the conviction, calling it a "parody of justice."

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.