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Updated: January 25, 2011 14:31 IST

Swiss government freezes Ben Ali’s accounts

Atul Aneja
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Swiss Federal President Micheline Calmy-Rey announces that the Swiss government has frozen the assets of former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo in Switzerland during a press conference in Berne on Wednesday.
AP
Swiss Federal President Micheline Calmy-Rey announces that the Swiss government has frozen the assets of former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo in Switzerland during a press conference in Berne on Wednesday.

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. The trade unions-the Democratic Forum for Labour and Unity (FDLT) and General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) appear to be playing a leading role in organising street demonstrations, which the police continue to attack with clubs and teargas, eyewitnesses say. The opposition is also demanding the dissolution of the Mr. Ben Ali’s former ruling party, the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD). Responding to the public sentiment, Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi and interim President Fouad Mebazaa had on Tuesday resigned from the RCD.

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