Tunisian national granted residence permit


The son-in-law of former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has been under the spotlight for several months after it emerged he was seeking political asylum in Seychelles.

Mr El Materi was forced to flee Tunisia after the uprising that ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 and was later sentenced in absentia to 16 years in prison for charges including embezzlement, misuse of state funds and the possession of illegal drugs and weapons.

The Tunisian national, who was issued with a red notice from Interpol on request from the Tunisian government, was allowed entry into Seychelles while his case for asylum was considered.
The department of immigration says the decision was made after the government of Seychelles had not satisfied itself that the conditions exist in Tunisia at this point for a free and fair trial if Mr El Materi was to be repatriated back to face the charges set out against him there.

According to Raymond St Ange, security advisor to the Minister for Home Affairs and Transport Joël Morgan, said he was not aware whether Mr El Materi had applied for citizenship, but said that the Tunisian had followed all the correct channels in the process to gain legal status in the country. He also added that Mr El Materi would not be a burden to taxpayers.

“He is responsible for all his financial liabilities. I can neither confirm nor deny whether there are any state assets being applied to him, but he is a private person in this country and he has his own resources,” said the security advisor.

“One of the things to consider in asylum requests is whether the information provided by the applicant is correct or not, the ability to cover one’s own expenses in that country and what would happen to that person if he was sent back to his country of origin,” explained Mr St Ange.

“The state has recognised his past affiliation to the former President, and as a result that has been taken into due consideration that if he goes back, Tunisia is not a stable country right now. It is still in its growing pains and a leader of the opposition was assassinated in February.”

After extended consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General’s Office in relation to the request for political asylum made by Mr El Materi, the department of immigration has announced that Seychelles law does not make specific provisions for political asylum status, but in conformity with international laws and conventions concerning human rights protection, the government of Seychelles has granted Mr El Materi and his family, which consists of his wife Nasrine and their three children, permission to remain in Seychelles through the provision of an initial 12-month residence permit, after which further assessments will be made with regard to his residence in the country.


Editor's note

In this article we are in no way alleging that Mr Materi was guilty of the charges that he has been convicted of. We were simply stating what actually happened according to what reports had been saying on this case, regardless of whether the charges Mr Materi has been accused of are true or not.

It is not within our ambit to endorse or refute what the Tunisian court had decided, but we however sincerely apologise to any aggrieved party if our report gave the impression that Mr Materi was guilty of the mentioned charges.

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