Ousted Tunisian leader hoarded diamonds, cash: TV

Government says it will redistribute stolen wealth


Tunisia's ousted president stashed diamonds, gold and wads of cash in secret spots around his palace in the impoverished country's capital, according to video shown by state television on Saturday.

Popular uprisings in January toppled president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years of repressive rule, sending shockwaves through the rest of the Arab world and encouraging a similar revolution in Egypt.

Ben Ali hid treasures behind curtains and in secret compartments behind the palace library, according to the video broadcast by First National TV, which showed millions of dollars and euros, diamond necklaces and gold recovered from the palace in Tunis' Sidi Bou Said district.

The broadcast said the riches would be redistributed to Tunisians, who have complained of rampant corruption during Ben Ali's rule of the North African state. Tunisian GDP per capita is roughly $10 per day.

France, Switzerland, Canada, and the European Union have said they have frozen the assets of the former president and his family. Tunisia's interim government, charged with setting elections, said it was seeking to recover money and property to help combat poverty.