A court in Tunisia has sentenced the country’s ousted dictator, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, and his wife to 10 years in prison for corruption. Ben Ali and his wife, who fled Tunisia to Saudi Arabia amid a revolution that toppled the then-ruler in 2011, were tried in absentia on several corruption charges at a Tunis court. A spokesman for the prosecution, Sofiene Sliti, said on Thursday that the two had been found guilty by the court in a case involving “administrative and financial corruption” on Tuesday.
Ben Ali had embezzled billions of dollars in state funds during his 23 years of dictatorship and before fleeing to Saudi Arabia. He has previously been sentenced to life in prison for the crackdown on anti-regime demonstrations during the 2011 revolution, in which 338 people were killed. Saudi Arabia, a dictatorial regime itself, is the destination of choice for foreign Arab dictators who are rejected by their own people. The Riyadh regime, which has been offering shelter to Ben Ali over the past several years, is highly unlikely to extradite him to Tunisia, where he faces the prison terms.
Meanwhile, the victims of the Ben Ali regime say the former ruler and his officials must be held accountable for their crimes. The case that was concluded on Tuesday also saw two other officials convicted, including a former minister for the environment, who was jailed for five years, and another ministry official, who was sentenced to three. A relative of the exiled president’s wife, Leila Trabelsi, was also sentenced to three years in prison.