Former Tunisia leader sentenced in absentia for 15.5 years in jail
A Tunisian court on Monday convicted the former president of smuggling drugs, guns and archaeological artifacts and sentenced him to 15.5 years in prison. Former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali will also be fined $72,000.
Monday's verdict follows a trial in absentia two weeks ago in which he and his wife each received sentences of 35 years in prison and $64 million in fines for embezzlement and other charges.
According to the AP, Monday's one-day trial started with the public defenders assigned to plead Ben Ali's case walking out of the courtroom after their request for more time was turned down. The trial continued in their absence, with prosecutors citing the discovery of weapons and drugs as well as archaeological treasures in the deposed leader's palace in Carthage. They also cited the testimony of the head of his personal guard and one of his bodyguards.
Ben Ali has claimed in a statement that the jewels and weapons were gifts from heads of state and the money and drugs were planted by the authorities .