Tunisian court convicts Ben Ali relative of drug use

TUNIS Sat May 7, 2011 2:31pm EDT

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TUNIS (Reuters) - A Tunisian court convicted on Saturday a nephew of ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's wife on charges of drug use and sentenced him to two years in jail, the official TAP news agency said.

Imed Trabelsi was arrested in January after Ben Ali and his wife Leila fled the North African country to Saudi Arabia following a popular uprising over poverty, corruption and political repression.

TAP said Trabelsi admitted to the charge but told the court he had stopped using drugs in 2000. He was fined 2000 dinar ($1450).

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 cracked down on 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 was ousted on January 14.

Villas belonging to Trabelsi, a businessman in his mid 30s, and other family members were looted and vandalized after Ben Ali's ouster.

Many people despised Ben Ali's wife Leila Trabelsi for her reported influence and lavish lifestyle.

(Reporting by Matthew Tostevin; Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Matthew Bigg and Andrew Heavens)

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