Tunisian court acquits security chief in escape case

TUNIS – Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali's feared security chief was acquitted on Friday on charges of forging passports to help relatives of the former Tunisian leader and his wife escape with cash and jewelry.

A Tunisian court dropped the charges against Ali al-Seriati, who asked Tunisians for forgiveness earlier this week, but he remains in custody pending other charges against him.

In the same session, the court sentenced 23 relatives of Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi to jail terms ranging from four months to six years. Leila Trabelsi herself was sentenced in absentia to six years and Ben Ali's powerful son-in-law Sakjher Materi was sentenced in absentia to four years.

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