Tunisians unhappy with Ben Ali verdict
Tunis - Tunisian authorities were under fire on Tuesday for their high-speed sentencing in absentia of toppled president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his wife to 35 years in prison for misappropriating public funds.
The court's quick verdict on Monday after only six hours of deliberation on the first day of the landmark trial was dismissed as a "charade" by some Tunisians and as a "joke" by a lawyer for Ben Ali.
"It is a big disappointment, the kind of charade of summary justice that the dictatorship had accustomed us to," said Mouhieddine Cherbib of a France-based Tunisian rights group on Tuesday.
"We wanted a real trial, a fair one... a trial of the dictatorship with people who were tortured appearing as witnesses - a justice system from which you learn something," Cherbib said.
Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi had been charged with embezzlement after the discovery of money and jewellery in their palace in the outskirts of Tunis.
The ex-president was also fined 50 million dinars (€25m) and his wife 41 million dinars (€20.5m) in the verdict.
Judge Touhami Hafi said the sentences, which exceeded the 20 years that had been widely predicted, would take immediate effect despite the couple now living in Saudi Arabia, which has so far ignored Tunisia's demands to extradite Ben Ali.