Tunisia Ex-Prez Gets Another 15 Years

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali convicted of smuggling guns, drugs, artifacts
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 4, 2011 2:40 PM CDT
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali: Former Tunisia President Sentenced to Another 15 Years in Prison
Former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's lawyers Hosni Beji, left, and Abdsatar Messaoudi talk as the second trial of Tunisia's former president opened Monday, July 4, 2011 in Tunis. The second trial of Tunisia's former president opened dramatically Monday with the court-appointed defense...   (Hassene Dridi)

Two weeks ago, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his wife were sentenced in absentia to 35 years in prison and ordered to pay a $65.5 million fine. Today, a court convicted the former Tunisian president of smuggling drugs, guns, and archaeological artifacts and sentenced him to 15.5 years in prison; he will also be fined $72,000. Authorities say another 91 charges remain just for the civil courts.

Monday's one-day trial began with the public defenders assigned to plead Ben Ali's case walking out of the courtroom after their request for more time was turned down. The trial continued in their absence, with prosecutors citing the discovery of weapons and drugs as well as archaeological treasures in Ben Ali's palace in Carthage. Ben Ali has claimed in a statement that the jewels and weapons were gifts from heads of state and the money and drugs were planted. (Read more Tunisia stories.)

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