Ben Ali contests seizure of property in Tunisia

AFP, Friday 13 Jan 2012

Confiscation of ousted president's assets was 'illegal' and will be referred to the United Nations, claims his lawyer

Ben Ali
Going to take his problem to the United Nations? Tunisia's ousted president threatens legal action (Photo: Reuters)

Tunisia's ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali plans to take a complaint about the seizure of his property to a United Nations committee, his lawyer said Friday.

In a statement, Akram Azoury condemned "the illegal actions of the Tunisian authorities who have confiscated all the fixed and moveable assets of president Ben Ali, including his personal house," under a decree signed by then interim president Fouad Mebazaa last 14 March.
The announcement came as Tunisians were preparing on Saturday to celebrate the toppling of Ben Ali a year ago on 14 January, when he fled to Saudi Arabia following weeks of street protests.
"It isn't possible to confiscate somebody's belongings except after a court ruling respecting the norms of a free trial and the right to a defence," Azoury said, denouncing "an abusive mesure contrary to the constitution and Tunisian laws."
"President Ben Ali intends to lodge a complaint against the Tunisian authorities with the Human Rights Committee in Geneva," he concluded.
The committee can hear complaints from individuals concerning breaches of civil and political rights by a state party to the relevant protocol, according to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
All Ben Ali's goods were confiscated after the revolution. The wide range of companies owned by his family clan, which took control of all the main sectors in the Tunisian economy, were turned over to official receivers.
Ben Ali has had several convictions handed down against him in his absence by Tunisian courts, including for embezzlement, illegal possession of weapons and narcotics, housing fraud and abuse of power.
He is accused in 18 trials, notably of murder and destabilising the state, and Tunisia has put out an international warrant for his arrest.
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