TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — A Tunisian military court on Wednesday convicted the former president in absentia of inciting violence and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.
It is Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s first conviction by a military court. He has already been convicted of drug trafficking, illegal arms trading and abuse of public funds and sentenced to 66 years in prison by a civilian court.
Ben Ali was overthrown in a month-long popular uprising last year and fled to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 14, 2011. His fall inspired a series of pro-democracy movements across the region now called the Arab Spring.
The court convicted Ben Ali of having given the orders to security forces to fire on protesters. Wednesday’s case was over an incident in the town of Ouardanine when police opened fire on a crowd attempting to stop the president’s nephew Kais from also fleeing the country, killing four.
A number of other officials convicted in absentia in the case were given 10 year sentences, according to the state news agency, while others in custody received five years in prison.
The relatives of the victims we’re awarded between $100,000 and $150,000.
A second military trial is also underway over the deaths of some 20 protesters in the south of the country. At least 338 people died in the uprising and another 2,147 were wounded.
Tunisia has repeatedly asked Saudi Arabia to extradite Ben Ali so he can face the charges in person.
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