May 5, 2011 / 6:17 AM / 9 years ago

Tunisia's ousted leader charged over shooting deaths

A file picture shows ousted Tunisia's President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali addressing the nation in this still image taken from video, January 13, 2011. REUTERS/Tunisian State TV/Handout

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian authorities have filed new charges against ousted leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his wife over the killing of protesters during the revolt against his rule, the official TAP news agency reported on Wednesday.

Quoting a judicial source, TAP said the charges stemmed from the shooting dead of several protesters by security forces in the central Tunisian town of Ouardanine, when protesters tried to stop Ben Ali’s nephew, Kais Ben Ali, from fleeing the city.

The incident occurred on the night between January 15 and 16, a day after month-long street protests forced Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia, ending his 23-year rein. The Tunisian uprising was the first of many to sweep the Arab world.

The new charges accuse Ben Ali and his wife, Leila Trabelsi, of “plotting against the internal security of the state” and “instigating disorder, murder and looting,” TAP reported.

Caretaker authorities in Tunisia, in an apparent attempt to assert their authority and gain legitimacy in the eyes of protesters who forced the transition, have set about attacking the vestiges of Ben Ali’s long rule.

Several members of his family and security apparatus, and some of his closest allies, were detained shortly after the president’s ouster.

TAP said charges had also been filed against 14 members of the security forces for their role in the Ouardanine incident, in which at least four protesters were killed.

Tunisian authorities said last month that they had prepared 18 legal cases against Ben Ali, including voluntary manslaughter and drug trafficking and use. They are seeking his extradition with his wife from Saudi Arabia.

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