Canada denies delaying seizing Ben Ali family assets

In Jan, Canada agreed to seize assets of eldest brother of Ben Ali`s wife.

Last Updated: Feb 18, 2011, 12:41 PM IST

Ottawa: Ottawa on Thursday dismissed accusations of foot-dragging in seizing the assets of ousted Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali`s family, saying it still needed details from Tunis.

"We stand ready to assist the people of Tunisia in their fight for justice. We have communicated this to the Tunisian government on several occasions and we have asked for specific information on any assets in Canada so those assets can be frozen," Bob Dechert, parliamentary secretary for the justice minister, told Parliament.

"The government of Tunisia has not formally responded to our requests," he added.

Canada agreed last month to seize the assets of Belhassen Trabelsi, the eldest brother of Ben Ali`s wife Leila Trabelsi, but Tunisia`s ambassador to Ottawa said on Wednesday he had yet to learn whether it had been accomplished.

Opposition parties and Tunisian-Canadian groups also pressed Ottawa to act.

Trabelsi arrived in Montreal with his wife, children and a nanny aboard a private jet last month and requested asylum.

Melissa Lantsman, spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, said at the time that they were "not welcome in Canada”.

Ben Ali, his wife and other members of his once all-powerful family are accused of illegally acquiring assets and transferring funds abroad during his 23-year rule.

Ben Ali resigned abruptly and fled in disgrace on January 14. Thirty-three members of his extended family have already been arrested in Tunisia.

Bureau Report