vendredi 4 novembre 2011

Yasser Arafat’s widow and the ex Libyan PM accused in Tunisia

Suha Arafat with her late husband Yasser Arafat.

The most recent Tunisian news isn’t just about the rumors surrounding government coalitions while the people wait for the Constituent Assembly to begin work in November on the country’s first constitution. Indeed, a lot have been said about recent torrential downpours that caused flooding, power outages and interruptions in the transportation system.

In other news, Tunisia’s justice ministry has issued an international arrest warrant for Suha Arafat, the widow of ex-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, on charges of corruption during the Ben Ali era. The authorities released very few details about the warrant. In a short statement, a Ministry of Justice representative said that they were after Mrs. Arafat because she is suspected of being implicated in various corrupt dealings with Ben Ali’s wife’s family (the Trabelsis).

Leila Trabelsi and Ben Ali.
Links between Mrs. Arafat and the old Tunisian rulers go back to the early nineties. At that moment, she had followed Yasser Arafat to Tunisia before marrying him. After a few years in the country, she had begun to get closer with the Trabelsis. She then stayed in the West Bank and France until the death of her husband in 2004, at which point she returned to Tunisia and obtained citizenship. This was short lived however as her citizenship was revoked following an altercation with Leila Trabelsi and she was forced to leave the country.

The causes of the conflict between the two women are not entirely clear. The main rumor is that there was discord about a joint investment in a private school in Carthage. Apparently this is also the reason for her being branded a criminal.

In response to the Tunisian Ministry of Justice’s declaration, Mrs. Arafat, who is now living in Malta, has said she is innocent and puts the entire fault on Mrs. Trabelsi. See a short interview she gave to France 24 (in French) :

Also concerning justice in Tunisia, Libya’s outgoing Prime Minister under Muammar Gaddafi, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, will be tried for extradition to Libya on November 8th. He had been arrested in Tunisia in late September while rebels and pro-Gaddafi forces were fighting over Bani Walid and Sirte.

Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, former Libya
Prime Minister under Muammar Gaddafi.
Mr. Mahmoudi does not want to go back to Libya since, as he claims, his life would be in  danger. He is the last remaining Libyan leader under the old regime that hasn't been captured or killed and he still knows many state secrets. His initial conviction was six months in prison for illegally entering the country although he was later freed after an appeal a week later. He is currently still in custody since Libyan officials have asked for his extradition.

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