Tunisia issues warrant for Arafat`s widow

Last Updated: Monday, October 31, 2011 - 20:35

Tunis: Tunisian authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Suha Arafat, widow of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, as part of a corruption probe into Tunisia`s former first family, the Justice Ministry said on Monday.

Suha Arafat used to spend much of her time in Tunisia and was for many years close to the wife of former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who was forced to flee by the north African country`s revolution in January.

"Tunisia issued an arrest warrant against Mrs Arafat on suspicion of involvement in cases of financial corruption with the family of Ben Ali`s wife," said Shokri Nafti, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry.

The Arafat family established ties to Tunisia in the period when the Palestinian Liberation Organization was exiled and set up its headquarters in Tunis in the 1980s and early 1990s.

After the death of the Palestinian leader in 2004, his widow received a Tunisian passport and was frequently seen in Tunisia alongside Ben Ali`s wife, Leila Trabelsi, a former hairdresser whose relatives came to control much of the economy.

Suha Arafat was stripped of her Tunisian nationality and deported in 2007 after a dispute with Leila Trabelsi.

Since Tunisia`s revolution, which set in motion the "Arab Spring" uprisings across the region, prosecutors have been pursuing dozens of people linked to the former first lady on charges of corruption.

The courts have also convicted Ben Ali and his wife, in absentia, of theft, possession of drugs and weapons, and corruption. Ben Ali`s lawyer denies the charges.

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, October 31, 2011 - 20:35

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