The brother of former Tunisian first lady Leila Trabelsi appeared in court and said he feared he would be subjected to “ill-treatment and even torture” if he was extradited to Tunisia. “For me, the question is clear, extradition means death,” he told the court. “I will not be luckier than my brothers. He said three of his brothers died in prison between 2011 and 2020, in “appalling conditions”.
Trabelsi, 57, was arrested in France in March of last year and charged with “money laundering within an organized crime group, using illegal means to obtain personal gain and complicity in false administrative documents ”. An investigation is still ongoing.
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Ben Ali’s second wife’s older brother was accused by Tunisians of making a fortune by abusing the country’s economic resources, establishing close relationships with powerful figures until the regime’s collapse in 2011. He fled Tunisia for Canada during the 2011 popular revolution, but left in 2016 after authorities in Ottawa refused to grant him asylum.
After his arrest in France, Tunisia requested his extradition to serve three prison terms for a total of 33 years. After referring to the “legal trust” between France and Tunisia, the public prosecutor Serge Bukovis asked the court to give an opinion favorable to his extradition. “As with every verdict already rendered, the Tunisian state confirms that Trabelsi can and should be retried on the facts for which he was convicted in absentia. ”
Trabelsi’s lawyer, Marcel Ceccaldi, condemned what he considered “judicial harassment” against the Trabelsi family. “There are serious reasons to fear that he will be subjected to ill-treatment.” Belhassen Trabelsi himself said that “my only crime is that I am a member of Ben Ali’s family”.