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03 December 2023

Canada urged to sign extradition pact with Tunisia

Canada’s opposition parties on Wednesday urged Ottawa to sign an emergency extradition treaty with Tunisia and expel ousted Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s billionaire brother-in-law.
“Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon should sign an emergency extradition treaty with Tunisia,” said MP and former Liberal immigration minister Denis Coderre.
He was joined in the call at a press conference by Justin Trudeau, the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, other MPs, and members of the Tunisian expatriate community.
The Group for Social Justice in Tunisia, a group of Tunisian-Canadians, expatriates and others that support democratic reforms, also pressed Ottawa to swiftly seek out and freeze the assets of Belhassen Trabelsi, the eldest brother of Ben Ali’s wife Leila Trabelsi.
The group says those assets include a private jet and a Montreal mansion.
“We ask the Canadian government to freeze the assets of the Ben Ali clan and to collaborate with Tunisian authorities in order to arrest and extradite Belahssan Trabelsi back to Tunisia,” the group said in a statement.
Trabelsi reportedly arrived in Montreal with his wife, children and a nanny aboard a private jet last month.
Canada has already agreed to a request from Tunis for the asset seizure, but officials stressed that Canada and Tunisia do not have an extradition treaty.
Cannon also said the family, which Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said is “not welcome” in Canada, has requested asylum.
Ben Ali, his wife and other members of his once all-powerful family are accused of illegally acquiring assets and transferring funds abroad during his 23-year rule.
Ben Ali resigned abruptly and fled in disgrace on January 14. Thirty-three members of his extended family have already been arrested in Tunisia.