Tunisia`s Ben Ali tried for drugs and weapon cache
Tunis: Ousted Tunisian president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali was to be tried in absentia on Monday on drugs and weapon charges described as "irrational" by his lawyer who wants more time to defend his client.
The trial, the second involving the ex-leader, had been scheduled to take place last week but was postponed due to a judges strike.
Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi have already been sentenced to 35 years in prison for misappropriating public funds after large sums of cash and jewellery were discovered in a police search of their palace.
The trial took place without the couple who fled to Saudi Arabia following January`s popular uprising.
A Tunis court also imposed a EUR 45 million (USD 65.3 million) fine in the June 20 conviction, handed down after only six hours` deliberation.
Ben Ali alone is accused of harbouring drugs and weapons at his palace in the Carthage neighbourhood north of Tunis. He also faces a drug trafficking charge.
His lawyer Hosni Beji said the pending charges were "irrational”.
"How can we imagine that a president holding power can have two kilogrammes of cannabis resin of mediocre quality (with intentions) of selling it," he said.
Beji also said most of the weapons found at the palace were personal gifts from high-ranking international officials.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and the Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz were among those who gave Ben Ali the tokens, he said.
The lawyer added that he has a list of witnesses that should be able to prove Ben Ali "never owned or kept drugs" and intends to ask for an adjournment to allow him more time to meet with Ben Ali and prepare his defence.
The former ruler and his wife have been living in exile since January 14, with Riyadh ignoring, at least publicly, Tunisian demands for their extradition.
Ben Ali denounced his conviction as a "parody of justice" and "political liquidation”, in a statement issued after the trial.
In addition to Monday`s hearing, he and his entourage face possible legal proceedings in no less than 182 other cases.
In one, a military court is expected to consider charges relating to the 300 people killed during the uprising.
They also face trial on charges of torture, money laundering and trafficking of archaeological artefacts.
Many Tunisians have questioned the value of prosecuting Ben Ali in his absence, with some commentators deeming it a "show trial".
A joint statement issued by the International Federation of Human Rights and the Tunisian League of Human Rights welcomed the convictions but said all efforts were not made to secure Ben Ali`s extradition before the trial.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- Heat ave continues in India, death toll climbs to over 1,400
- Megastar Amitabh Bachchan slapped with Rs 1 crore notice
- Kenyan lawyer offers to marry Barack Obama's daughter Malia
- 4 Indians in Forbes' 100 most powerful women list
- Gujjar stir: HC asks Rajasthan govt to clear rail track, roads
- Maggi likely to face ban in India!
- Salman Khan accident files burnt in Mantralaya fire
- AIB: The 'Third Gender's right to dignity'
- Gujjar stir: HC asks Rajasthan govt to clear rail track, roads- Part II
- TERI panel finds RK Pachauri guilty in sexual harassment case
- Rajasthan: High Court raps Chief Secy, DGP for failing to end Gujjar agitation
- Erstwhile Mysuru kingdom gets new king
- Priyanka, Ranveer talk about their film 'Dil Dhadakne Do'
- Former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi meets PM Modi
- Meet 92-year-old Phyllis Sues who dances toTango
- CBSE Class 10 (Class X Board) Result 2015 on cbse.nic.in, cbseresults.nic.in at 2 pm
- Sonia Gandhi 'unconstitutional authority' during UPA: PM Narendra Modi
- Hours after attacking NDA govt, Manmohan Singh meets PM Narendra Modi
- Check cbseresults.nic.in, cbse.in for CBSE Class 10 X Board Result at 2 pm
- GUJCET Results 2015 declared on gseb.org
- Centre moves SC against Delhi HC order on LG's powers; hearing on Friday
- Pakistan break Team India's long-standing ODI record at home soil
- Gujjar agitation: Centre sending additional forces to vacate rail tracks, say sources
- Rahul Gandhi takes another dig at NDA govt, says Manmohan gave lessons on economy to PM Modi
- Log on to cbseresults.nic.in, cbse.nic.in at 2 pm for Class 10th Result 2015
- Former Bihar CM Jitan Ram Manjhi meets PM Modi, triggers tie-up speculation
- WBCHSE (wbchse.nic.in & wbresults.nic.in): West Bengal Class 12th Result to be declared on May 29
- Gujarat Board Results 2015: Gujarat Board HSC class 12th science results to be declared today at 9 AM on gseb.org
- CBSE (cbseresults.nic.in, cbse.nic.in) Class 10th (X Board) Result 2015 declared
- Watch: Dance guru Prabhudheva's mind-blowing act in 'Happy Hour' from 'ABCD2'!