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Belhassen Trabelsi

Swiss court agrees bank data transfer to Tunis

The decision by the Federal Court in Lausanne confirms that of the Federal Criminal Court (Keystone)

The decision by the Federal Court in Lausanne confirms that of the Federal Criminal Court


The Federal Court has given the green light for information concerning frozen Swiss bank accounts belonging to the former Tunisian president’s brother-in-law, Belhassen Trabelsi, to be transferred to Tunis. Certain legal guarantees must be ensured.

In November 2012 the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office decided to hand over to Tunisian investigators documents relating to accounts held by Trabelsi and a dozen companies at the HSBC bank in Geneva.

The billionaire and the former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben-Ali are suspected of having looted funds belonging to the Tunisian state. Since the fall of Ben Ali in January 2011 Tunisian funds worth CHF60 million ($63 million) have been frozen in Swiss bank accounts.

In September 2013 the Federal Criminal Court rejected an appeal by Trabelsi but said the transmission of information was subject to certain conditions – no special court or death penalty, respect for presumption of innocence and for Swiss diplomatic representatives to be allowed to monitor criminal procedures.

The decision by Switzerland’s highest court on Thursday therefore reaffirms the earlier decision by the Criminal Court.

Trabelsi fled to Montréal, Canada with his family in January 2011 after Ben Ali was ousted from power and requested refugee status. He is also being investigated in Switzerland by federal prosecutor for possible participation in money laundering and organized crime.

Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia along with his wife and three children on January, 14 2011, following a month of protests against his rule. A Tunisian court sentenced Ben Ali and his wife in absentia to 35 years in prison on 20 June 2011 on charges of theft and unlawful possession of cash and jewellery.

In June 2012, a Tunisian court sentenced him in absentia to life imprisonment for inciting violence and murder and another life sentence by a military court on April 2013 for violent repression of protests.

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