US & Canada

Canada in bid to expel Tunisian Belhassen Trabelsi

The Chateau Vaudreuil Suites Hotel near Montreal
Image caption Mr Trabelsi, a billionaire, was said to be staying at the Chateau Vaudreuil Suites Hotel near Montreal

The Canadian government is working to arrest and expel Belhassen Trabelsi, the brother-in-law of former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Canada has revoked Mr Trabelsi's residency permit and has moved to seize the billionaire's Canadian assets.

Mr Trabelsi and his family reportedly arrived in Montreal on a private jet last week after Mr Ben Ali was ousted.

Officials at the Tunisian embassy in Ottawa have asked Canada to arrest and extradite Mr Trabelsi.

Speaking to Canadian media in Val D'Or, in the province of Quebec, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said the government would make "every effort" to track down Mr Trabelsi's assets.

"He is not welcome," Mr Cannon said. "We are going to find - in the context, obviously, of current legislation - ways to assure, as quickly as possible, that we might comply with the demand from the Tunisia government."

'On the run'

It is believed Mr Trabelsi and his family fled the Chateau Vaudreuil Suites Hotel in Montreal on Thursday, and their whereabouts remain unknown.

It is unclear how long Mr Trabelsi had residency status, which allows non-Canadian citizens to live in the country and can require a lengthy application process.

Mr Ben Ali, who was president for 23 years, was forced from power this month by a series of protests against poverty and corruption. The former president fled with his wife to Saudi Arabia.

Interpol also issued an alert for the arrest of Mr Ben Ali and six family members on request from Tunisia, which has accused them of property theft and illegal transfer of foreign currency, among other charges.

The international police agency said member states had been asked to "search, locate and provisionally arrest Mr Ali and his relatives".

During a recent trip to Morocco, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said members of Tunisia's former regime were not welcome in Canada.