Ousted president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali's conviction to life in jail for the bloody suppression of last year's uprising was a positive step for Tunisia's legal system but also exposed flaws, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.
"The assessment of the case and the related cases of 22 other former high-ranking Tunisian officials identifies positive aspects of the proceedings but concludes that legal flaws left the tribunal ill-equipped to identify those who carried out the killings and to address the culpability of high-ranking officials," it said.
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The New York-based HRW also stressed that "such cases should in the future be heard before a civilian rather than a military court," adding that Ben Ali, who has taken refuge in Saudi Arabia, was entitled to a new trial if he returned to Tunisia.
"The trial of Ben Ali and other top officials is an important step toward the rule of law for Tunisia, but the (mid-June) verdict will remain toothless unless Ben Ali is returned to Tunisia and can answer his accusers face to face," it said.