Tunis, Tunisia | AFP | Imed Trabelsi, a nephew of toppled Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, apologised to the Tunisian people on national television Friday for the endemic corruption during the regime.
In his testimony to the Truth and Dignity Commission (IVD), a tribunal established after the 2011 revolution, Trabelsi recounted how he got rich thanks to a well-oiled system involving the complicity of customs officers, high officials and ministers.
“We practically had a monopoly on the banana trade,” Trabelsi said, adding that there were also monopolies on real estate and alcohol sales. If another businessman tried to compete “we blocked his load,” he added.
“The customs officers who worked with us were dedicated to our boat… they blocked the interests of many people and took out our goods before everyone else’s,” he said, adding that bribes of up to 30,000 dinars (over $12,000) were given.
Trabelsi, who has been in prison since the revolution, “apologised from the bottom of (his) heart” and said he wanted his freedom.
He is the nephew by blood of Ben Ali’s wife Leila, who fled with her husband to Saudi Arabia after the popular uprising.
The couple have since been sentenced in absentia to prison and Trabelsi has also received multiple sentences, including for fraud.
He has said he is ready to return the sums illegally gained.
In addition to human rights violations such as torture and rape, the IVD is also investigating financial crimes.