Sakher El Materi: Tunisia ex-leader's son-in-law arrested

Sakher El Materi (file image)
Image caption Sakher El Materi was allegedly travelling on an expired diplomatic passport

The son-in-law of Tunisia's former president has been arrested in the Seychelles, Tunisian officials say.

Businessman Sakher El Materi was convicted in absentia of corruption by a Tunisian court in July 2011.

He had fled to Qatar after the uprising that ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali last year.

Justice Minister Noureddin Bhiri said Tunisia has asked for Materi's extradition and he expected this to take place soon.

Fadhel Saihi, an adviser to Mr Bhiri, told Tunisian radio that Materi was arrested as he tried to enter the Seychelles using an expired diplomatic passport.

Materi was convicted of corruption along with his father-in-law and Mr Ben Ali's daughter Nesrine, who is Materi's wife.

Materi and Ben Ali were sentenced to 16 years in prison and Nesrine was given an eight-year jail term, all in absentia.

"Sakher El Materi went to the Seychelles after leaving Qatar," Mr Bhiri said.

"The Seychelles authorities opened an inquiry, because he was the subject of an international arrest warrant and because his passport had expired.

"The Tunisian authorities will do everything they can to get Sakher El Materi extradited."

Holiday destination

Mr Bhiri was speaking at a seminar on recovering the assets of the Ben Ali family.

The Seychelles had been a regular holiday destination for the former president and his close family.

Ben Ali was toppled in an uprising that triggered the "Arab Spring". He then fled with his family to Saudi Arabia.

In June 2011 he was first sentenced - along with his wife Leila - to 35 years in prison for embezzlement and misuse of state funds.

Weeks later he was convicted of possessing illegal drugs and weapons and given 15 years in jail.

In June 2012 he was given a life sentence in absentia by a military court over the killing of protesters during the revolution.

Saudi Arabia has so far failed to extradite Ben Ali, despite a request by Tunisia's new government.