Tunisia launches new bid for Ben Ali assets

Tunisia has sent a new request for assistance to Switzerland in its attempt to gain access to frozen assets belonging to former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

This content was published on October 5, 2011 - 13:32 and agencies

A first request for mutual legal assistance was sent in March but did not supply some important information needed by the Swiss legal system and so was turned down.

The latest request was received on Monday and has been passed onto the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, a Federal Justice Office spokeswoman told the Swiss News Agency.

Switzerland was the first country to freeze assets belonging to Ben Ali and his entourage. It is holding onto SFr60 million ($65 million).

The development comes a week after the Swiss foreign minister visited Tunisia. Micheline Calmy-Rey, who also holds the rotating presidency, told a European Union task force meeting in the North Africa country that Switzerland was determined to return frozen assets “as quickly as possible” but that according to Swiss law the funds needed to be declared illicit by a Tunisian court.

Expert missions have already been organised between both countries to try to accelerate the process.

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