The Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs [official website] on Sunday submitted a formal request to Saudi Arabian authorities to extradite ousted former president [press release, in Arabic] Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali [BBC profile, JURIST news archive] following the filing of additional charges. In addition to charges of money laundering [AFP report] and possession of unlicensed weapons [CNN report] against the ousted president, his wife, and other family members, Ben Ali has been charged with committing and inciting voluntary manslaughter and sowing discord among citizens. The Foreign Ministry has also asked Saudi Arabia to provide information on Ben Ali's health following news reports of his deteriorating health and possible death. Last month, Tunisia's Justice Minister Lazhar Karoui Chebbi announced that the country issued an international arrest warrant [JURIST report] for Ben Ali.
Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called on the Tunisian transitional government to investigate incidents of police violence against protesters and end police brutality [HRW reports; JURIST report], and the UN reported that at least 219 died as a result of the protests, including 72 killed in prison riots. In January, the Tunisian Constitutional Council officially announced that Ben Ali had permanently left the office of the presidency after he declared a state of emergency [JURIST reports] amid nationwide protests, banning public gatherings and allowing police to fire on anyone refusing to obey orders, and fled the country. Earlier that month, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] announced that UN experts would be sent to Tunisia [JURIST report] to assess the human rights situation and meet with the country's interim leaders. Also, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official website] urged government leaders in Tunisia to initiate dialogue between all sides in an attempt to restore the rule of law [JURIST report]. The Tunisian Constitutional Council declared that the leader of the lower house of parliament, Foued Mebezza, would assume power as interim president [JURIST report] until elections are held, which Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi [Reuters profile] has promised will be within six months.