Tunisian former justice minister arrested

AFP , Friday 9 Sep 2011

The former justice minister in Tunisia Bechir Takkeri has been arrested for alleged witness nobbling in the case of a yacht stolen in France in 2006

A former justice minister in Tunisia, Bechir Takkeri, has been detained for alleged witness nobbling in the case of a yacht stolen in France in 2006, the TAP news agency reported Friday.

A judicial source confirmed to AFP that Takkeri was arrested early on Thursday evening.

According to TAP, Takkeri is suspected of inciting a witness to commit perjury to lift suspicion hanging over Imed Trabelsi, the nephew of Leila Ben Ali, wife of president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, who fled the country on January 14 after a popular uprising.

Imed Trabelsi was unsuccessfully prosecuted in France for "thefts in an organised gang". He was accused of having stolen the luxury yacht owned by Bruno Roger, a manager of the Banque Lazard and close aide to president Jacques Chirac and the current head of state, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Two other yachts which disappeared from the French Riviera in 2005 and 2006 were found with forged registration details in Tunisia.

In May 2007, French police issued a warrant for the arrest of Trabelsi, but Tunisia refused to extradite him.

In Tunisia itself, Trabelsi was acquitted in connection with the yacht thefts on January 30, 2010.

Last July, Takkeri, who had been placed in custody for suspected corruption, was freed. This decision aroused anger, particularly in the ranks of the north African country's magistrates, who denounced alleged impunity for men who had served the Ben Ali regime.

Trabelsi was arrested after the overthrown of Ben Ali and is being tried on a series of charges.

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