TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian authorities have prepared 18 legal cases against former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, including "voluntary manslaughter" and "drug trafficking," the state TAP news agency said on Wednesday. The revelation was made by Justice Minister Lazhar Karoui Chebbi in an interview aired on state television, TAP said.
Other charges include "conspiring against the state" and "drug use."
The news agency quoted Chebbi as saying a total of 44 legal cases had been prepared by his ministry against Ben Ali, his family and his inner circle.
Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia after he was toppled by mass protests on January 14 after 23 years in power. Several members of his family and security and some of his closest allies were detained shortly after he was forced out.
The caretaker authorities, trying to assert their authority and gain legitimacy in the eyes of protesters who forced the transition, are attacking the vestiges of his long rule.
Chebbi said the Justice Ministry was exploring legal ways to extradite Ben Ali from Saudi Arabia to face trial. He gave no further details.
Tunisia announced on January 26 that it had asked Interpol to help arrest Ben Ali, his wife Leila Trabelsi and other members of the family who fled the country during the uprising.
The interim authorities appointed a new government on March 7 and disbanded the state security apparatus, notorious for human rights abuses under Ben Ali.
(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Michael Roddy)