TUNIS, January 16, 2011 (AFP) – Imed Trabelsi, nephew of the powerful wife of ousted Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, died of a knife wound in the capital’s military hospital, a staff member told AFP Saturday. Trabelsi, the first confirmed victim in the former president’s immediate entourage, died on Friday, said the source who asked not to be named. “Leila’s little darling was knifed in the last few days and admitted to emergency,” the medic said laconically, referring to Ben Ali’s wife. Trabelsi, the favourite of the many nephews of the Ben Ali family, died on the day that his uncle and the rest of the clan fled the country under mounting street demonstrations amid accusations of corruption. It was not immediately clear how Trabelsi had been wounded, but reports circulating in Tunis spoke of a settling of accounts by one of his former colleagues.
In May he had been “elected” mayor of the commune of La Goulette north of Tunis, where he installed himself as supremo well before the vote was held. Law suits had been started against him in France for organized crime after the theft of a swish yacht belonging to Lazard Bank executive Bruno Roger, who is close to President Nicolas Sarkozy and former president Jacques Chirac. His country refused to extradite him. Trabelsi made a fortune in real estate and selling with a branch of French furniture conglomerate Conforama. The business community deplored his methods, but did not dare to confront him openly.
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