The Swiss government has decided to freeze the accounts of ousted Tunisian President, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali amid calls that the former dictator now in exile in Saudi Arabia should be held accountable for his alleged crimes.
“The government decided at its meeting today to freeze any funds in Switzerland of the ex-Tunisian President and his entourage with immediate effect,” Swiss Foreign Minister Michelene Calmy-Rey announced on Wednesday, following a Cabinet meeting. She added that the Swiss government had acted in order to prevent withdrawal of any assets belonging to Mr. Ben Ali that might be in Switzerland. This would also help Tunisian authorities recover pubic assets that might have been illegally transferred to Switzerland.
In Tunisia, prosecutors have launched an inquiry into the assets owned by Mr. Ben Ali and his extended family. The move coincides with growing demands to hold the former dictator accountable for his alleged crimes during his 23 year rule.
Opposition leader, Moncek Marzouki, who arrived in Tunis on Wednesday after a 20-year exile in France demanded Mr. Ben Ali's extradition from Saudi Arabia to Tunisia in order to face trial.
Meanwhile, the public mood in Tunisia has hardened against participation of former regime figures in the new interim government formed in the aftermath of Mr. Ben Ali's exit.
AFP reports from Geneva:
Switzerland decided on Wednesday to block any funds held in the country by Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo, said Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey.
The freeze would last three years.
The European Union and the United States have also decided to block Mr. Gbagbo's assets.
Ivory Coast has been locked in a political standoff after Mr. Gbagbo refused to step down following presidential elections, despite a vote which the Independent Electoral Commission, U.N. and most of the world said his rival Alassane Ouattara won.