Tunisia issues international arrest warrant for former president

Tunisia issues international arrest warrant for former president

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[JURIST] Tunisia’s Justice Minister Lazhar Karoui Chebbi announced Wednesday that the country has issued an international arrest warrant for ousted president Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali [BBC profile]. Ben Ali, his wife and other family members face allegations that they illegally transferred money [AFP report] out of the country, possessed unlicensed weapons [CNN report] and incited armed violence. Chebbi said some of the former president’s family members have already been arrested, though others have traveled to Canada [CBC report] where some of them have permanent resident status. Canada has said it is willing to consider freezing any assets [Toronto Star report] held by Ben Ali or his family within the country. France is also considering freezing the family’s assets, and the Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation [RFI report] into Ben Ali’s assets after three NGO’s filed a lawsuit in France accusing Ben Ali of corruption and money laundering.

Last week, 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. Earlier in the week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official website] urged government leaders in Tunisia to initiate dialogue between all sides in an attempt to restore rule of law [JURIST report]. The Tunisia Constitutional Council officially announced earlier this month that Ben Ali had permanently left the office of the presidency after he declared a state of emergency [JURIST reports] and left the country. The council, the country’s highest legal authority on constitutional issues, declared that the leader of the lower house of parliament, Foued Mebezza, will assume power [AFP report] until elections are held in two months.