Last updated: 5 July, 2012

Ben Ali trial positive but shows flaws, says Human Rights Watch

Ousted president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali’s conviction to life in jail for the bloody suppression of last year’s uprising was a positive step for Tunisia’s legal system but also exposed flaws, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.

“The assessment of the case and the related cases of 22 other former high-ranking Tunisian officials identifies positive aspects of the proceedings but concludes that legal flaws left the tribunal ill-equipped to identify those who carried out the killings and to address the culpability of high-ranking officials,” it said.

The New York-based HRW also stressed that “such cases should in the future be heard before a civilian rather than a military court,” adding that Ben Ali, who has taken refuge in Saudi Arabia, was entitled to a new trial if he returned to Tunisia.

“The trial of Ben Ali and other top officials is an important step toward the rule of law for Tunisia, but the (mid-June) verdict will remain toothless unless Ben Ali is returned to Tunisia and can answer his accusers face to face,” it said.