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Geopolitics

Ben Ali Convicted For Murder As New Violence Spreads In Tunisia

TUNIS TRIBUNE (Tunisia), FRANCE 24 (France)

TUNIS – Former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was sentenced to 20 years in prison, for "incitement to public disorder, murders and lootings on the Tunisian territory." The sentence was handed down Wednesday morning by a Tunis military court, following a trial focused on the days around Ben Ali's eventual fall from power, when police forces had been given the order to shoot unarmed protesters.

Already judged for embezzlement of public funds, drug-trafficking and misuse of public resources, Ben Ali has now accumulated sentences totaling 66 years, the French channel France 24 reports. The former dictator was tried in absentia because Saudi Arabia, where he fled to as his regime crumbled in early 2011, refuses extradition in spite of the international arrest warrant against him.

The sentence comes after two nights of violence in Tunisia, reports the Tunis Tribune "in reaction to an exhibition with ‘blasphemous' paintings."

The French-language newspaper reports that "police had to use tear gas to disperse the protesters, probably Salafis." More than 160 people were arrested and some 100 were injured. Reuters reported Wednesday morning that one protester was killed. A curfew was ordered, from 9pm to 5am in eight Tunisian regions, including the capital, in what is one of the worst bouts of instability since Ben Ali's fall.

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