Former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was sentenced in absentia Wednesday to 20 years in prison by the Tunis military court for ” inciting disorder, murder and looting in Tunisian territory “, TAP reported. The military court published its verdict early in the morning in the case known as Ouardanine. It dealt with the death of four young people who were killed by bullets during the violence that rocked the city of Ouardanine in the Tunisian Sahel in mid- January 2011.
On the night of 15 to 16 January 2011, after Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia, four demonstrators were killed while trying to prevent the escape of Kais Ben Ali, nephew of the deposed president.
The victims’ families accused law enforcement agents of giving the order to fire on demonstrators. The days that followed the flight of Ben Ali had been marked by chaos and violence, and many atrocities were committed by armed militiamen. Kais Ben Ali was arrested March 14 in Sousse.
Fifteen members of the security forces were also pursued in this case and sentences of 5 to 10 years imprisonment were imposed by the military court, according to TAP. Some of the defendants are on the run.
The court also granted compensation to the families of the victims ranging between 150,000 and 200,000 dinars (75,000 euros and 100,000).
The conviction in the case of Ouardanine took place when another military tribunal, in Kef (west of Tunis), is set to rule shortly in the “case of the Thala and Kasserine martyrs.” A death penalty is sought against Mr. Ben Ali, charged with complicity in the murder of 22 demonstrators killed in January 2011 in the central region of the country.
Former President Ben Ali has already accumulated several sentences including 66 years in prison for embezzlement, drug trafficking and abuse of public property. He is subject along with his wife Leila Trabelsi to an international arrest warrant, but Saudi Arabia has so far not responded to the Tunisian requests for extradition.