The trial of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, former tyrant of Tunisia who was ousted into exile in Saudi Arabia, will start on the 20th June in absentia, as declared by interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi, who went on to explain that both the estranged dictator and his cronies will be facing more than 90 charges concerning corruption, drugs, guns and graft charges.
Ben Ali’s family have claimed that since his alleged stroke in February this year, he has not made any public appearances or statements, and Al Jazeera has been notified that the Saudi authorities have not responded to the interim governments requests for Ben Ali’s extradition. This is despite pressure from Interpol.
This trial is paramount to the full transition to Tunisian democracy, in order for the perpetrators who have caused the north African state suffering in the past twenty three years to be held to account now, rather than settling on an amnesty law which will only serve to create political conflict in the future. Noureeddine Ben Ticha explains that, “this trial has very important political impact because the citizens believe he took away the will of the people for years and amassed wealth unlawfully, and they believe that his crimes cannot go without reckoning.”
It is essential to those who have struggled under Ben Ali, as well as the 223 souls who perished fighting for freedom. It is essential to those who want democracy in their land. It is essential to the Libyans, Syrians, Bahrainis and Yemenis who are currently revelling in the anguish of ousting their own political burdens, that there is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, and that each tear and bead of sweat and blood will not be shed in vain. Tunisia, the birth place of the Arab Spring, needs to continue being the model it has set, and pave the way of exemplary democratic transition making, and its first step? Like any good democratic judiciary system, with reverence to the rule of law – trying its criminals.
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
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