Tunisia court annuls confiscation of ousted president’s assets

Zine El AbidineA Tunisian court has annulled a 2011 decree to confiscate the assets of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his circle, the government announced Tuesday, vowing to appeal the ruling.

“The decision was issued yesterday (Monday) to annul the decree” confiscating the assets of 114 members and aides of Ben Ali’s family and of his wife Leila Trabelsi, the minister of state property and land affairs, Hatem Eleuchi, told Mosaique FM radio.

He denounced the ruling by an administrative court in Tunis as “dangerous”.

It was not the job of the judiciary to take such an initiative on a state decree without it being challenged by the ousted president’s family, the minister said.

“It’s a shocking decision and we hope the court will take the right decision when it comes to the appeal,” he said.

The court ruled the decree was invalid because it was not formally endorsed, neither by the National Constituent Assembly elected in October 2011 nor the parliament elected at the end of last year.

In the months following Ben Ali’s flight to Saudi Arabia after the January 2011 revolution which ended his rule, the cash-strapped country seized hundreds of businesses, properties, luxury cars and jewellery of the Ben Ali family and his circle.

Some assets were sold off at the end of 2012.

In September of that year, Tunisia said it had confiscated $13 billion worth of assets, including from the ousted president’s party which has since been dissolved.

Tunis has also taken legal measures to seize funds abroad held by Ben Ali, who has been convicted on several corruption charges that he and his entourage have denied.

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