Tunisia begins extradition procedures against ex-president

June 18th, 2011 - 4:54 am ICT by IANS  

Tunis, June 18 (IANS) Tunisia has started extradition procedures against former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Xinhua reported.

Ben Ali took power in a bloodless coup in 1987 and led the country for 23 years. He stepped down in mid-January amid an unprecedented wave of street protests that began in December 2010 after a young graduate set himself on fire when stopped from selling fruit and vegetables without a licence.

The extradition procedures have been commenced by a Tunisian military magistrate, the official news agency TAP reported Friday.

Announcing the decision, during a press conference, Marouane Bouguerra, director general of military justice, said the extradition request would be made in accordance with the Riyadh Arab judicial cooperation convention signed in 1983, related to the handing over of criminals.

Bouguerra also said that the three permanent military tribunals of Tunis, Sfax and le Kef have been entrusted with some 182 cases during the period between Dec 17, 2010 and Jan 14, 2011.

The cases include voluntary manslaughter, drug-trafficking and money-laundering. The trial, in absence of the former president who fled to Saudi Arabia Jan 14 following popular anti-government protests, will take place in Tunis June 20.

Ben Ali was credited with delivering stability and a measure of economic prosperity to Tunisia, but he was widely criticised for suppressing political freedoms.

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