Son-in-law of Tunisia ex-president picks Seychelles as asylum destination

Convicted in absentia of corruption in Tunisia

VICTORIA (Seychelles) - The Seychelles said on Wednesday the son-in-law of Tunisia's deposed president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has requested asylum in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
"The Seychelles government wishes to confirm receipt of a request for asylum that was submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs by a Tunisian national, Mr Sakhr El Materi, who is currently in country," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Materi, who was convicted in absentia of corruption by a Tunisian court, fled to Qatar just before the overthrow of his father-in-law's regime in 2011, but the Gulf emirate agreed to expel him in September.
Materi was briefly in the Seychelles in December, leaving after he was questioned by police for trying to enter on an expired diplomatic passport, but returned last month.
Seychelles said it would consider the request "on completion of an assessment to determine whether the grounds for the application are applicable under Seychelles' laws," the statement added.
Tunisian officials have said they would do everything to get Materi extradited.
Ben Ali and his close family used to go on holiday to the Seychelles in secret prior to the revolution.
Said to be the ex-president's favourite son-in-law and long seen as a possible successor, Materi was sentenced in absentia to 16 years in prison and fined 97 million dinars ($61 million) for corruption and property fraud.
Married to Ben Ali's eldest daughter Nesrine, the businessman owned Princess Holding and was active in virtually every economic sector.
His properties have either been confiscated or placed under state administration.
The north African country has repeatedly asked Saudi Arabia, where Ben Ali took refuge with his wife Leila Trabelsi after they fled Tunisia on in January 2011, to extradite him.
Ben Ali has been sentenced in absentia to life in prison for presiding over the bloody protest crackdown that ignited the Arab Spring, and convicted on other charges that include incitement to murder, embezzlement and abuse of power.