BEIRUT

Middle East

Tunisia PM kicks off auction of Ben Ali treasures

  • A Porche belonging to a daughter of Tunisia's deposed ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, is seen parked in the grounds of the National Guard barracks in the capital Tunis on October 5, 2012. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID

GAMMARTH, Tunisia: Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali kicked off viewing on Saturday for an auction of thousands of luxury items once owned by ousted dictator Zine El Abidine Ali and his family.

Jebali inspected 40 luxury cars, thousands of clothing, jewellery items and art works on the eve of the public auction which is being held in the Tunis suburb of Gammarth in a bid to raise millions of euros for government coffers.

Highlight of the month-long sale is expected to be the cars, which include a Lamborghini Gallardo LP 460, a Bentley Continental sports car, an armoured Cadillac and a Maybach 62.

Suits belonging to the toppled despot are expected to go for 3,000 euros each, while coats belonging to his wife Leila Trabelsi, who was notorious for her expensive tastes, could fetch as much as 4,000 euros.

Her handbags are expected fetch 3,000 euros, while the couple's footwear is expected to command prices ranging from 100 to 300 euros.

Acting finance minister Slim Besbes told reporters earlier this week that items valued at less than 10,000 dinars (5,000 euros) would be sold at fixed price, but that anything priced above that would be put to auction.

The government hopes to raise at least 10 million euros from the sale.

Besbes said the items belonged to Ben Ali and 114 of his relatives.

The public can view the sale items from Sunday for an entry charge of 30 dinars, a stiff amount in a country where the minimum wage is just 320 dinars a month.

Ben Ali, who fled in the face of the first of last year's Arab Spring uprisings, lives in exile in Saudi Arabia with his wife.

His overthrow has done little, however, to address the economic grievances that fuelled the revolt, with protests against the new government multiplying in recent weeks.

 
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