The Council of the European Union decided on Friday to lift the freeze on the funds of seven Tunisians from a list whose funds are frozen, enabling them to recover their properties and bank accounts in European Union (EU) countries.
According to a decision issued by the Council of the EU published in the Official Gazette of the European Union, the list included members of the family of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Commenting on the lifting of the freeze, political activist and United Nations (UN) expert Abdel-Wahab Hani described the decision as: “An epic diplomatic failure for the President of the Republic and the government.”
In a post he published on Facebook, Hani called for: “Holding accountable those who undermined Tunisia’s efforts to recover the looted funds and to respond to the Tunisian people’s right to recover their funds. It is an epic diplomatic failure by the President of the Republic and his presidential committee to recover the looted funds, and also a failure by the President’s government for exceptional measures and a European stab in the back of Tunisia.”
He continued: “The Council of the European Union decided today to lift the freeze on the funds of seven members of the family of Ben Ali and others close to them through its executive decision (DÉCISION D’EXÉCUTION (PESC) 2022/2086 DU CONSEIL du 27 October 2022) among the freezing list that included the ousted former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, which was issued by Resolution No. 101/2011 on February 4, 2011. The list that was published by the Official Gazette of the European Union on October 28, 2022, which has the executive feature in all the countries of the European Union is:
- Muhammad Bin Monsef Bin Muhammad Al-Tarabulsi, No. 4 on the list,
- Kais Bin Salah Al-Din Bin Al-Hajj Hamda Bin Ali, No. 36 on the list,
- Hamda Bin Salah Al-Din Bin Al-Hajj Hamda Bin Ali, No. 37 on the list,
- Najm Al-Din Bin Salah Al-Din Bin Al-Hajj Hamda Bin Ali, No. 38 on the list,
- Najat Bint Salah Al-Din Bin Haj Hamda Bin Ali, No. 39 on the list,
- Imad Bin Al-Habib Bin Buali Al-Lateef, No. 43 on the list,
- Nawfal Bin Al-Habib Bin Bu Ali Al-Lateef, No. 44 on the list.”
The I Watch organisation revealed on 4 October that the EU intends to remove between 7 and ten names from the list of people whose funds have been frozen, which includes 42 names, to enable them to recover their properties and bank accounts in EU countries.
In its statement published on Facebook, the organisation pointed out that meetings of the EU started last month and included a group of “East-West experts” in the EU to look into the status of the 42 Tunisians featured on the list.
It clarified: “If the group agrees to delete some names from the list, the decision would be activated starting from January 2023.” It noted that the decision would be reviewed by other structures of the EU, such as the Political and Security Committee and the Committee of Permanent Representatives, and the final decision would be taken by the Council of the EU. I Watch added that the meetings of the various committees will be held between 17-18 October and 14 November, and the final decisions will be announced in January.
I Watch accused President Kais Saied and Prime Minister Najla Bouden of failing to manage the file of the frozen funds and called for holding an urgent meeting of the committee charged with recovering the looted funds abroad. The meeting aims to coordinate efforts between the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of State Property and Real Estate Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.