Paris begins investigation into Ben Ali's assets
Paris’s state prosecutor office said on Monday that it had opened an investigation into real estate assets held by ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. It is thought that Ben Ali and his entourage have amassed wealth estimated at 3.6 billion euros.
The inquiry was launched following a civil suit filed by three activist groups against Ben Ali, who is accused of plundering Tunisia’s resources during his 23-year reign.
Sherpa, Transparency International and the Arab Commission for Human Rights recently filed a complaint for corruption, laundering of public funds and misuse of assets. They say that according to different sources Ben Ali is thought to own property in Paris worth 37 million euros and has assets in several French banks.
François Baroin, a French government spokesperson, said on 17 January that France was at the “disposition of the Tunisian constitutional authorities” to examine the fate of property owned by Ben Ali.
Meanwhile in Tunisia, the country’s army chief on Monday warned anti-government protesters in the capital Tunis that a “power vacuum” could lead to dictatorship.
“Our revolution, your revolution, the revolution of the young, risks being lost,” said Rachid Ammar. “There are forces that are calling for a void, a power vacuum. The void brings terror, which brings dictatorship,” he told demonstrators.
He called for protesters to leave the ministerial quarter and let the current government or another one get on with its work.
In other news the owner of Tunisia’s top private television channel said on Monday that he had been released. Larbi Nasra of Hannibal TV had been accused of high treason.