The Tunisian Court of Appeal upheld a military court verdict and sentenced in absentia the country’s former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to life in prison on charges of killing and injuring protesters during the revolution that overthrew him in 2011; judicial sources reported.
The sentence against Ben Ali who fled with his family to Saudi Arabia in January 2011 is a final judgment that ends three years of litigation.
The court issued lenient sentences against senior security officials involved in the killing and wounding of protesters during the Tunisian revolution, which ranged between two months and three years suspended.
The court gave a suspended three-year sentence to the former director general of the presidential guard Ali Seriati, the main defendant in the killing of protesters while it acquitted a few other defendants.
The case involves the killing of 70 victims and injuring of 850 more in Kasserine, Thala, Sfax and Tunis during the country’s revolution between 17 December, 2010 and 28 February, 2011.
The victims’ defence lawyer Sharaf al-Din Qaleel told Anadolu News Agency that the court’s sentences come as a result of “a deal concluded between the United States and the Gulf countries to restore Ben Ali’s regime”. Qaleel pointed out that the defence team left the court before the announcement of the sentences in protest. Angry relatives of victims gathered outside the military court of appeals in Tunis as the defence walked out of the court room after hearing the verdict.
The court’s ruling against the former Tunisian president is his fourth life in prison sentence on charges of killing protesters. In April, a military court in Sfax, sentenced the former president in absentia to life in prison. In June and July 2012, a Tunisian court ruled against Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to two life in prison sentences in absentia on charges of suppressing demonstrations in the west and north of the country. Ben Ali has also been sentenced to long prison terms on charges of corruption, abuse of authority and drugs possession.