05-24-2018  4:22 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

Attorney General Forms Hate Crime Task Force

The task force will study hate-motivated crimes and review existing legal protections for victims ...

Portland Art Museum Celebrates Art Museum Day with Free Admission on May 25

Portland Art Museum joins art museums across North America, with great works of art and public programs ...

June Key Delta Community Center Hosts May Week ’18 Health Fair May 26

Event includes vision, glucose screenings, medication disposal and car seat installation ...

Mississippi Avenue Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 22, 10 percent of proceeds from participating Mississippi Ave. businesses will go to SEI ...

Amazon: Echo device sent conversation to family's contact

SEATTLE (AP) — An "unlikely" string of events prompted Amazon's Echo personal assistant device to record a Portland, Oregon, family's private conversation and then send the recording to an acquaintance in Seattle, the company said Thursday.The woman told KIRO-TV that two weeks ago an...

Portland streetcar derails in crash; 1 injury

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Portland streetcar derailed during an accident involving several vehicles.No major injuries have been reported, but police say one person was taken to a hospital.The crash happened early Thursday afternoon in the Central Eastside Industrial District.The streetcar's "B...

Suspect in 1986 Washington murder case pleads not guilty

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A man arrested in the killing of a 13-year-old Tacoma, Washington girl over three decades ago has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.The News Tribune reports 60-year-old Robert Washburn pleaded not guilty Thursday in Tacoma, Washington, to murder with aggravated...

Amazon: Echo device sent conversation to family's contact

SEATTLE (AP) — An "unlikely" string of events prompted Amazon's Echo personal assistant device to record a Portland, Oregon, family's private conversation and then send the recording to an acquaintance in Seattle, the company said Thursday.The woman told KIRO-TV that two weeks ago an...

OPINION

Racism After Graduation May Just Be What's on the Menu

Dr. Julianne Malveaux says that for our young millennials, racism is inevitable ...

Prime Minister Netanyahu Shows Limits of Israel’s Democracy

Bill Fletcher, Jr. on racial politics in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s uneven treatment of African immigrants ...

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Staley settles lawsuit against Missouri athletic director

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — South Carolina coach Dawn Staley has reached a ,000 settlement in her lawsuit against Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk.Missouri is paying the ,000. One half of the settlement will go to INNERSOLE, a nonprofit foundation co-founded by Staley. The other half will...

San Francisco police not charged in black man's 2015 killing

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco prosecutors said Thursday that they will not charge officers in two shooting deaths, including the killing of a black man that led to citywide protests three years ago and federally recommended police reforms.District Attorney George Gascon declined to...

Body camera video is latest setback for Milwaukee police

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Body camera video showing police using a stun gun on an NBA player over a parking violation is just the latest setback for efforts to improve relations between Milwaukee officers and the city's black population.The confrontation involving Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee...

ENTERTAINMENT

Scenes cut from 'Show Dogs' over resemblance to sexual abuse

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two scenes are being cut from the family movie "Show Dogs" after complaints that they resemble real-life sexual abuse, the movie's distributor has announced.In the movie, a police dog goes undercover at a dog show to catch animal smugglers.In one scene, the dog is told to...

Tommy Chong reflects on pot's evolution as he turns 80

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Yeah man, Tommy Chong says he always knew he'd live to see the day marijuana legalization would be sweeping America.He knew when he and partner Cheech Marin pioneered stoner comedy 50 years ago, a time when taunting the establishment with constant reminders that they...

Paltrow: Brad Pitt threatened Harvey Weinstein

NEW YORK (AP) — Gwyneth Paltrow says ex-boyfriend Brad Pitt threatened producer Harvey Weinstein after an alleged incident of sexual misconduct.The 45-year-old actress told "The Howard Stern Show" on Wednesday she was "blindsided." Paltrow claimed she was 22 when Weinstein placed his hands...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

MLB panel says baseballs getting extra lift, cause unknown

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseballs really have been getting extra lift since 2015, and it's not from the exaggerated...

Tommy Chong reflects on pot's evolution as he turns 80

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Yeah man, Tommy Chong says he always knew he'd live to see the day marijuana...

Bus driver charged in crash that killed student, teacher

A school bus driver with a history of driver's license suspensions caused a fatal crash on a New Jersey highway...

Israel defense chief plans 2,500 new West Bank settler homes

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's defense minister said Thursday he will seek approval next week to fast-track...

Cyclone Mekunu pounds Yemen island on its path to Oman

SALALAH, Oman (AP) — Cyclone Mekunu roared over the Yemeni island of Socotra in the Arabian Sea on its way...

Saudi Arabia releases 3 women as other activists still held

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi authorities have released three prominent women's rights...

By The Skanner News

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) -- Tunisia's former ruler and his wife were convicted in absentia on embezzlement and other charges on Monday after $27 million (euro18.97 million) in jewels and public funds were found in one of his palaces.

Five months after being forced from power, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Leila Trabelsi were sentenced to 35 years each in prison and fined tens of millions of dollars in the first of what is sure to be a long string of trials.

However, the trial in some ways failed to live up to its billing. With the 74-year-old Ben Ali not present for his judgment, there was a sense of frustration among many. The couple went into exile on Jan. 14 in Saudi Arabia, which failed to respond to an extradition request.

Monday's convictions followed a day-long hearing before the Tunis criminal court.

The ex-president was fined 50 million dinars (about $36 million) and his wife 41 million dinars for embezzlement of public funds and misappropriation.

The trove of jewels, some which the court said had "historic value," and the money were found in a palace in the picturesque town of Sidi Bou Said, outside Tunis, following Ben Ali's departure.

The verdict in a second affair stemming from the discovery of weapons and drugs in the official presidential palace in Carthage, this one targeting only Ben Ali, was postponed. Public defenders assigned to Ben Ali said Monday that they needed time to study the file. The trial was to resume June 30.

Ben Ali vigorously denied the charges in a statement through his French lawyer, calling the proceedings a "shameful masquerade of the justice of the victorious."

"I devoted my life to my country and aspire, at the twilight of my existence, to conserve my honor," Ben Ali said in the statement, referring to his years as interior minister and his 23 years as president.

Ben Ali, and in particular his widely detested wife's Trabelsi clan, are widely accused of treating Tunisia as their personal property to amass money, privilege and power.

An official for the Ministry of State Domains, Mohamed Adel Ben Ismail, has evaluated the fortune amassed by Ben Ali and the Trabelsi clan at a quarter of the value of the Tunisian economy.

The much despised Trabelsi family, alleged to have operated as a mafia, had vast control over the economy of this North African country with stakes in everything from tourist hotels to banks or car dealerships and radio and television.

However, the total value of assets in Tunisia and abroad of Ben Ali and his wife are not known. The Swiss were among the first nations to seize the families' assets and prosecutors said in January they had launched a money laundering investigation into the family's accounts.

Blocked accounts for Ben Ali and some 40 members of his entourage contained tens of millions of Swiss francs, according to the Swiss prosecutors office said.

French judicial authorities are also working to identify any assets, and eventual misdeeds, in France.

According to the act of accusation read at the trial, Ben Ali's monthly stipend skyrocketed during his time in power, which began in 1987 after a bloodless palace coup. Receiving 2,000 dinars per month in 1987, he was taking in nearly 4.7 million dinars by 1998 "with no (fiscal) controls."

The court also accused him of ordering up special privileges "in violation of rules" for the Trabelsi clan and the Ben Ali family.

Ben Ali "vigorously denies" accusations against him, according to a statement issued a day before the trial by his French lawyer, Jean-Yves Le Borgne, who was not allowed by Tunisian law to assist in the proceedings.

More serious charges, including plotting against the security of the state and murder, will be dealt with at future trials. Judicial authorities say that Ben Ali and his entourage are implicated in 93 civil affaires and 182 others that fall under military jurisdiction.

He is expected to have to answer for the deaths of 300 people during the uprisings. Numerous cases are likely to be joined together.

Monday's trial was a veritable media show and included, for the first time, TV cameras in the packed courtroom.

One public defender of the ex-president justified his defense of Ben Ali before the court. Abdessatter Massoudi said he accepted the job of defending Ben Ali - refused by at least one other public defender - "to honor the profession and ensure the basis for a balanced trial."

Backed by his powerful party that controlled all sectors, Ben Ali governed with an iron fist, suppressing dissent and quashing all freedom of expression. Ben Ali's regime unraveled with a monthlong uprising around the country triggered by the fatal self-immolation of an unemployed man in the rural heartland. That sparked protests that moved through the countryside to Tunis, the capital, and failed to die down despite concessions from the president. In a surprise move a day after a third televised speech aimed at appeasing the restive population he left for exile.

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