21 Jun 2011

Tunisia's Ben Ali sentenced in absentia to 35 years

10:15 am on 21 June 2011

A court in Tunisia has convicted deposed president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi of theft and unlawful possession of cash and jewellery and sentenced them both to 35 years in jail.

Judge Touhami Hafian also ruled the couple would have to pay fines totalling $US65.6 million.

Mr Ben Ali and his wife flew to Saudi Arabia on 14 January this year after mass protests against his 23-year rule, Reuters reports.

Their in absentia trial lasted just two days and the verdicts on Monday were for only some of the charges.

Those relating to illegal possession of drugs and weapons are expected at the end of June.

Mr Ben Ali and his associates face 90 charges and are to be tried in absentia in a military and a civilian court.