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Tunisia: Ben Ali discusses life in Saudi Arabia

Former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali

Former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali met the former leader of Ennahda Movement, Saber Hamrouni, at his residence in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and made statements for the first time since his overthrow in 2011.

Tunisian website Hakaek Online quoted Hamrouni saying that Ben Ali has been suffering from “difficult financial conditions,” though Transparency International estimated his family’s wealth at $13 billion, including $5 billion for the former Tunisian president alone.

Hamrouni also asserted that Ben Ali has been experiencing “an unstable financial situation,” and pointed out that “his income is collected from a charity the Saudi government has granted him after the Tunisian State abstained from granting him a pension.”

Hamrouni, Head of Bariq Human Rights Association, has published photos with Ben Ali on his official Facebook page and quoted Ben Ali who claimed that he wants to return to Tunisia and appear before the courts, provided that his trial be held in accordance with fair judicial standards that respect human rights and without political influence.

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Hamrouni added that he had met Zine El Abidine Ben Ali at his residence in Jeddah on two occasions in January and April 2018. He confirmed that he had met with the former Tunisian president to “check up on him as a human rights activist and head of “an association of political prisoners and transitional justice.” He clarified that he would meet him on another occasion soon.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who ruled Tunisia for 23 years, admitted making many mistakes; including the crimes of torture and the targeting of opposition political figures. Ben Ali also admitted that his relatives damaged Tunisia during his rule and led to the overthrow of his regime by violating the law and committing grievances against Tunisians,” according to Hamrouni.

“Ben Ali informed me that he made a mistake in 2011, when the Tunisian revolution broke out. This was not being honest with the Tunisian people about his relatives’ crimes. He wished he had been honest with the Tunisian people since his first speech rather than the third,” claimed Saber Hamrouni.

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