Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali
Ruled: President, 1987-2011
Deposed: Popular uprising
Exiled: Saudi Arabia
Wealth: $5 billion
After 23 years as Tunisia’s tough man, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, was forced out in January by a massive popular uprising. The Jasmine Revolution began when 26-year old fruit seller Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest police harassment. This coincided with WikiLeaks revelations of corruption (Ben Ali freighted in ice cream from St Tropez while his son-in-law kept a tiger that ate four chickens a day) and repression (“a police state … with serious human rights problems”, according to secret US diplomatic cables).
After holding out for a month Ben Ali fled to France on his private jet, but was refused permission to land. Frantic phone calls found him a bolthole in Saudi Arabia where he and his hated wife, ex-hairdresser Leila Trabelsi, have been given a palace. According to the French Secret Service, Leila picked up 1.5 tonnes of gold bars worth $37 million from Tunisia’s Central Bank on her way out.
Since then, locals have trashed the family’s luxury cars and homes, and Swiss authorities have frozen two bank accounts containing “tens of millions of Swiss francs.” But plenty more is still missing. Local politicians claim Ben Ali stole $5 billion from the country’s coffers.