14 Jun 2011

Former Tunisian leader to be tried in absentia

10:55 am on 14 June 2011

Former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia is to be tried in absentia.

The trial of Mr Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia following mass protests in mid-January, is set to begin next Monday.

Mr Ali had been in power for 23 years.

He and his associates, who face 90 charges, will be tried in absentia in both a military and a civilian court.

Interim prime minister Beji Caid Essebsi says Saudi authorities have not replied to requests to hand over the former president.

The BBC reports initial charges will relate to the discovery of $US27 million in cash, weapons and drugs in presidential palaces.

Mr Ali's lawyer has described the trial as a ''masquerade''.