Tunisia court gives 15-year sentence to Ben Ali nephew

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 22, 2011 5:27 PM
Tunisia court gives 15-year sentence to Ben Ali nephew

TUNIS (Reuters) - A Tunisian court has sentenced the nephew of the former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to 15 years in absentia, the state news agency said Wednesday, after a court issued a first sentence against Ben Ali this week.

TAP said Sofian Ben Ali was found guilty of financial corruption but did not give details or any information on his whereabouts.

Dozens of relatives of Ben Ali as well as ministers and advisers have been jailed since he and his wife fled to Saudi Arabia in the face of a popular uprising in January. But few have been tried until now, angering many Tunisians.

A Tunisian court sentenced Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi in absentia Monday to 35 years in jail for illegal possession of large amounts of cash and jewelry.

A former interior minister, Ben Ali had been in power since 1987. Though he was credited by Western allies as an economic reformer, the former president increased the grip of police and security in Tunisian society, often citing fear of Islamists.

The Tunisian protests set in motion a series of uprisings in Arab countries. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down in February, and leaders in Yemen, Syria and Libya are battling to overcome opposition.

The North African country will hold elections in October for a constituent assembly to write a new constitution, after which new parliament and presidential elections will be held.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Angus MacSwan)