23 relatives of ousted Tunisian president face trial

09:29, July 27, 2011      

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The trial of 23 relatives of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi began on Tuesday, the official press agency TAP reported.

The defendants who were arrested on Jan. 14, the day Ben Ali fled the country, are accused of attempting to leave the country illegally in possession of large sums of foreign currency.

Among those arrested are two of Leila Trabelsi's sisters and her nephew, Imed Trabelsi who was already sentenced to four years in jail for drug possession. He was caught at the airport as he attempted to flee the country with 36 watches and five kilos of jewelry.

In July a Tunis court sentenced Ben Ali to 15 years and a half in prison for possession of drugs, arms and archeological artifacts. In June both Ben Ali and his wife were sentenced to 35 years in jail for possession of large sums of cash and jewelry in their Sidi Dhrif palace.

The former president who fled to Saudi Arabia after weeks of protests against his 23 year-old rule also faces legal charges in 180 other cases, including that of deliberate manslaughter which carries the death penalty in Tunisia.

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