Tunis court finds former leaders guilty of torture


A Tunisian military court found ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and several of his senior officials guilty of torture in the first trial of Ben Ali’s old guard since this year’s revolution.

Since Ben Ali’s fall in January after mass protests — events which sparked this year’s “Arab Spring” — many of his former ministers and advisers have been held on charges ranging from killing civilians to corruption.

After 23 years in power, Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia with members of his close family. He and his wife have since been sentenced in absentia to decades in prison for corruption. He was handed another five years on Wednesday in the torture case, Reuters reports.

In the first trial of Ben Ali’s officials since the revolution, the Tunis military court sentenced former interior minister Abdallah Kallel and his junior minister for security, Mohammed Ali Ganzoui, to four years in prison each.

In total nine people, including Ben Ali, were found guilty. Five of them, including Ben Ali, were sentenced in absentia.

The charges related to the torture in 1991 of 17 military officers who were accused of trying to stage a coup.

In the country’s first democratic election, Tunisians last month elected a coalition government led by the moderate Islamist Ennahda party.

The new government, which is expected to be announced next week, faces several challenges, including corruption trials of the country’s old guard and cases in which former security officials stand accused of killing civilians in the revolution.