Italy to return seized Ben Ali yacht to Tunisia
ROME (Reuters) - An Italian court on Thursday ordered the repatriation of a luxury yacht belonging to ousted Tunisian ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali which was seized after his overthrow during the "Arab Spring" uprisings.
The yacht, together with "a considerable sum of money" held in an Italian bank account, will be sent to Tunisia as soon as logistics have been finalized, the Rome court said in a statement. It gave no details about the size of the assets.
Tunisian authorities asked Italy to seize the boat and other assets after Ben Ali's fall, the court said. Tunisia then asked for the possessions back, and the court granted their request.
On December 22, Tunisia began a month-long public auction of the Assets of Ben Ali and his relatives to raise funds for state coffers. The goods included dozens of luxury saloon and sports cars owned by the former president and his wife Leila Trabelsi.
Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia as protests engulfed Tunisia on January 14, 2011, has been sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment on charges ranging from corruption to torture and murder.
Saudi Arabia has ignored numerous requests by Tunisia to hand over Ben Ali and Trabelsi, a former hairdresser whose lavish lifestyle and clique of wealthy relatives had come to be seen by many Tunisians as a symbol of the corrupt Ben Ali era.
(Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Barry Moody and Andrew Heavens)
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