The ex-president of Tunisia has denounced his trial and conviction in absentia, calling it a "parody of justice."
A day after Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his wife _ both in exile since Jan. 14 _ were convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison, he derided the trial as "nonsense judicially but politically expedient."
He said in the statement issued Tuesday through his French lawyer that Monday's trial was a "parody of justice whose only merit was its brevity."
Ben Ali and Leila Trabelsi were convicted Monday on embezzlement and other charges after a treasure trove of jewels and cash were found in a palace.
Ben Ali flew to Saudi Arabia after a monthlong uprising that sparked protests around the Arab world.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
BEIRUT (AP) _ Tunisia's former ruler has denied accusations he fled the country and says he was "tricked" into leaving.
A statement released by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's Lebanese attorney says the ousted leader boarded a plane to Saudi Arabia after he was advised by his security chief of an assassination plot against him.
He says he planned to return on the same flight after dropping off his family but the plane's pilot disobeyed orders and took off without him.
The statement was made available to The Associated Press in Beirut on Tuesday.
Ben Ali and his wife were convicted in absentia in Tunisia on Monday on embezzlement and other charges after $27 million (euro18.97 million) in jewels and public funds were found in one of his palaces.