2009 file photo of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his wife Leila. ALFRED DE MONTESQUIOU/AP/Press Association Images

Ben Ali sentenced to 20 years for inciting murder

Protests which forced Ben Ali from power marked the start of the Arab Spring uprisings.

OUSTED PRESIDENT Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has been sentenced in absentia by a Tunisian court to 20 years for inciting disorder, murder and looting.

Ben Ali’s trial centred on the shooting dead of four protesters who had tried to prevent his  nephew fleeing from Yemen’s coastal town Ouardanine a day after Ben Ali had himself left the country.

In July 2011, the former president was sentenced to decades in prison on charges of corruption.

Saudi Arabia has given little indication that it intends to extradite Ben Ali to serve his sentences.

Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia after he was forced from power by a popular uprising which sparked the Arab Spring movement across parts of north Africa and the Middle East.

Escalating demonstrations against Ben Ali’s government began after fruit trader Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in December 2010 in a fatal protest over the corruption of local officials. Ben Ali stepped down from power in mid-January 2011 after more than two decades in power.

The Tunisian protests sparked similar movements across the region which saw Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Yemen’s Ben Ali Abdallah Saleh and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi fall from power.

Earlier: One year on: what has the Arab Spring changed? >