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Tunisian court sentences Ben Ali brother-in-law to ten years in prison

Businessman Belhassen Trabelsi, the brother of ousted leader's wife, was also fined $14.51m over corruption charges
Belhassen Trabelsi, right, brother-in-law of ousted Tunisian president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, arrives with his lawyer on 19 June 2019 at the Aix en Provence courthouse in France (AFP)

A Tunisian court has sentenced Belhassen Trabelsi, brother-in-law of ousted ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, to ten years in prison for corruption, according to state media.

Trabelsi is currently based in France, who in January refused an extradition request from Tunisia for the businessman on the grounds that he risked "inhuman and degrading treatment" on his return.

The court also sentenced Sami Fehri, the owner of El Hiwar TV, to eight years in prison in the same case.

State-run news agency TAP reported on Tuesday that the court fined the two men 40 million dinars ($14.51m) for using state television resources for the benefit of a private company and transferring advertising revenues to their company.

Once described in a leaked 2008 US diplomatic cable as Ben Ali's "most notorious family member", wealthy businessman Trabelsi fled Tunisia by yacht to Italy on 14 January 2011, the same day Ben Ali took flight to Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Arab Spring uprising.

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Trabelsi flew in a private jet to Canada and lived in a plush Montreal apartment until 2016. 

When he was denied asylum, he disappeared. After three years on the run, he was arrested in March 2019 in the south of France.

He has been accused of fraud, embezzlement and laundering criminal proceeds.