Tunisia: trial of Ben Ali collaborators postponed

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Ali Seriati, the former security chief of ousted Tunisian President, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, arrives before court for the second trial hearing in Tunis, Tunisia, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. The security chief, Ali Seriati, is charged with a plot against state security, aggressive acts and for "provoking disorder, murder and pillaging," the TAP state news agency reported.(AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — A Tunisian court has granted a defense request to postpone the trial of 23 relatives and close collaborators of ousted Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali for about a week.

The defendants face charges including illegal possession of foreign currency, jewelry trafficking and attempted flight. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and face hefty fines.

The defendants include Ben Ali's security chief, Ali Seriati.

The trial began last month but judges have twice granted defense requests seeking to postpone the proceedings, with the hearings now set to resume next Wednesday.

Ben Ali and some of his relatives fled into exile in Saudi Arabia on Jan. 14 amid street protests.