Tunisian authorities have prepared 18 legal cases against former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

The cases include voluntary manslaughter and drug trafficking, says Justice Minister Lazhar Karoui Chebbi on state television TAP. Other charges also include conspiring against the state and drug use.

Chebbi says that a total of 44 legal cases have been prepared against Ben Ali, his family and his inner circle. The Justice Ministry is also exploring ways to extradite Ben Ali from Saudi Arabia to face trial.

Ben Ali was forced to flee Tunisia on 14 January following weeks of protests against his regime. On 7 March, prime minister Beji Caid Essebsi appointed a new interim government that contains no members of the former regime of Ben Ali (MEED 9:3:11).

Essebsi kept the leaders of key ministries, including defence, interior, justice and foreign affairs. Ministers who were seen as too close to the regime of Ben Ali resigned or were forced out.

Essebsi replaced Mohamed Ghannouchi on 27 February.