Tunis:  Toppled Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and his wife were sentenced in absentia on Monday to 35 years in prison each in a trial for misappropriating public funds, a judge said.

Judge Touhami Hafi also fined the exiled ex-leader 50 million dinars (25 million euros) and his wife Leila Trabelsi 41 million dinars on the first day of the trial.

He postponed a trial in a second case until June 30 to allow Ben Ali's lawyers more time to prepare their defence.
Ben Ali and Trabelsi were charged with embezzlement after the discovery of money and jewellery in their palace in the outskirts of Tunis.

The second case, targeting Ben Ali only, involves weapons and drugs allegedly found in a Presidential residence in Carthage.

Ben Ali denied all the charges in advance of the trial through his lawyer Akram Azouri. The former President, his wife and their two children fled Tunisia for Saudi Arabia in January at the climax of the first of the Arab uprisings.