Ex-Tunisian Dictator was a World-Class Jewel Thief and Druggie

The trial of deposed Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali begins today in absentia, since Ben Ali is yukking it up with Saudi royals on his extended vacation there. Today's trial is the first of many, but this one is pretty juicy. Ben Ali is charged with theft, as well as drug and weapons possession, and the case is built on evidence recovered from two of his palaces outside of Tunis.

The evidence includes $27 million worth of jewelry and cash, nearly 4.5 pounds of "drugs, believed to be cannabis," and weapons. That's a pretty nice haul from just two palaces. One of Ben Ali's lawyers issued a statement on his behalf yesterday, calling the trial a "shameful image of victor's justice," and added: "What interests him now is to stress that he did not flee at all. He wanted to avoid a bloody confrontation among the Tunisian people who are always in his thoughts and heart." That's certainly one way of looking at it.

After this trial, prosecutors will get to the charges of murder, conspiracy, corruption, money laundering, abuse of power, and trafficking of archaeological artifacts. Saudi Arabia won't extradite him, so he'll likely never face justice. But at least they can humiliate him a little more.

[Image via AP]