Tunisia court acquits ex-security chief

2011-08-12 17:00

kalahari.com

Tunis - Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's feared former security chief was acquitted on Friday on charges of forging passports to help relatives of the deposed Tunisian leader and his wife escape with cash and jewellery.

A Tunisian court dropped the case against Ali al-Seriati, but he remains in custody pending more serious charges of trying to sow strife in the wake of the revolution that sparked the "Arab Spring" protests that spread across the region.

Ben Ali's overthrow after weeks of protests electrified millions across the Arab world, who suffered similarly from high unemployment, repressive governments and rampant corruption.

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, accused of involvement in killing protesters, went on trial earlier this month, appearing in a hospital bed behind a courtroom cage.

The scene enthralled the Arab world but dismayed Tunisians who have seen high-profile allies of Ben Ali escape the country and are concerned about what they see as the slow pace of legal proceedings in the seven months since their revolution.

Exiled to Saudi Arabia, Ben Ali and his wife are being tried in absentia, frustrating Tunisians thirsty for accountability after 23 years under what was widely termed "The Family".

In the same session, the court sentenced 23 relatives of Ben Ali and his wife, Leila Trabelsi, to jail terms ranging between four months and six years. Leila Trabelsi was sentenced to six years in absentia and Ben Ali's powerful son-in-law Sakher Materi was sentenced to four years in absentia.

"These verdicts are disappointing," said Abdelmajid, a Tunisian man who came to watch the sentencing.

"Is it possible that some of the Trabelsis get just four months or a year? Why don't they just release them too?"

What revolution?


The court released from custody on Friday the former finance minister Mohammed Rechid Kchich, though corruption charges against him have not been dropped.

His release comes on the heels of the release of the reviled former justice minister, who also still faces charges.

Analysts and politicians say Ben Ali's former allies are still in positions of power and are working behind the scenes to save their friends, protect their interests and roll back the gains Tunisians have made since Ben Ali fled the country.

"The struggle now is between those who supported the Tunisian revolution and some pockets of the former regime who want to protect their previous political and economic interests," said Sofiene Chourabi, a young journalist and activist blogger who helped the revolution spread from the marginalised interior to the capital Tunis in December.

Seriati was considered close to the Tunisian leader and many Tunisians accuse him of orchestrating a spree of violence after Ben Ali fled the country on January 14 for Saudi Arabia.

The relatives were captured at the airport as they prepared to flee with cash and jewellery on the night Ben Ali left.

Progress

Seriati was arrested shortly after Ben Ali's departure, and appealed for forgiveness in court on Wednesday.

"I ask the Tunisian people to forgive me. I am Tunisian and I love Tunisia," he shouted at the end of the hearing.

Tunisians acknowledge progress has been made. The old Tunisia was a police state in which justice was arbitrary.

Yet many are concerned that reform is too slow and is endangering the transition to democratic elections on October 23.

Protests are planned in the coming days to demand a judicial overhaul to try to ensure that police and officials are held accountable for the deaths of more than 100 protesters.

"Even Seriati is innocent. So who are the criminals? The people who went on protests from December 17 to January 14? And they said it was a revolution," wrote one Tunisian on Facebook.

Read more on:    tunisia  |  north africa  |  uprisings  |  tunisia protests
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

7 tips for the ultimate family camping trip

Taking the kids on a camping trip can be one of the most memorable holidays they will ever have!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

BASE jump off the world’s tallest building!
Stand up paddler rides over shark!
Bear Grylls’ top 10 things kids should do outdoors
You HAVE to see this MTB Tsunami Fip!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

20% off Afrikaans books, music and DVDs. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Hot gaming titles – available for pre-order!

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto 5 and more. Pre-order now!

Get a free eBook

Buy 3 eBooks and get the cheapest FREE. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Pushing too hard and doing too much may have left you feeling drained and overwhelmed. You may need time out to recharge and reset...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.