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Protests in Europe over Ben Ali's fortune

Protests in Europe over Ben Ali's fortune
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Tunisians in Switzerland have protested outside a major bank in Geneva. Their aim is to stop supporters of former President Ben Ali from accessing his assets.

They want to know whether any of their ousted leader’s fortune belongs, by rights, to them.

The group’s lawyer, Ridha Ajmi, wants the assets frozen, as well as those of associated companies with accounts in Switzerland. He said some members of families close to Ben Ali also own property in Switzerland and this should be seized.

Meanwhile, in France, Tunisia’s former colonial power, human rights campaigners have filed claims of corruption and misuse of funds in an attempt to freeze Ben Ali’s assets.

It is not a simple case of bank accounts in Ben Ali’s name, according to William Bourdon, a lawyer for Transparency International. He said: “There is a range of bank accounts, company shares and property. The concept of ownership here is opaque; it is often people with only loose links to the Ben Ali family.”

Meanwhile, in Tunisia, questions over Ben Ali’s wealth are being asked with increasing frequency.

Villas belonging to his extended family have been ransacked by locals angered by the ostentatious display of wealth.