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Death penalty requested in Tunisian dictator trial
Military prosecutor calls for death penalty in absentia trial of ex-Tunisian dictator
By The Associated Press

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) ' The prosecution of a military tribunal demanded the death penalty for Tunisia's former dictator over his role in the deaths of protesters during the popular uprising that overthrew him a year ago.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is being tried in absentia by both military and civilian courts in Tunisia for alleged crimes committed during his 23-year iron-fisted rule of the North African country.

The state news agency reported late Wednesday that Ben Ali is now on trial for the deaths of protesters in the four southern towns of Thala, Kasserine, Kairouan and Tajerouine, during the early weeks of the month-long uprising that began in December 2010.

Tunisia's uprising sparked a wave of pro-democracy movements across the Middle East and North Africa that overthrew several governments and became known as the Arab Spring.

It is the first time the death penalty has been requested against Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 14, 2011.

Ben Ali has already been convicted of drug trafficking, illegal arms trading and abuse of the public funds and sentenced to 66 years in prison by a civilian court.

A second military trial is also underway over the deaths of protesters in the north of the country.

At least 338 people died in the uprising and another 2,147 were wounded.

Tunisia has repeatedly asked Saudi Arabia for Ben Ali to be extradited to face the charges in person.

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