Former Tunisian security chief Ali al-Seriati begged the forgiveness of the Tunisian people Wednesday while appearing in court.
Seriati's sudden outburst came at the close of the day.
A much-feared strongman while in power, Seriati surprised his lawyers when he shouted at the end of the hearing, “I ask the Tunisian people to forgive me. I am Tunisian and I love Tunisia!”
The ex-security chief was being tried on charges of providing former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's relatives with forged passports in order to facilitate their escape from the country during its Jasmine Revolution earlier this year.
The verdicts on Seriati and 23 relatives of Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi – who are accused to attempting to flee Tunisia with large quantities of jewelry and foreign currency – are expected to be handed down on Friday.
Seriati also faces separate charges of attempting to create chaos and internal disturbances after his former boss, Ben Ali, was ousted from the government after ruling the country for 23 years. Unrest has continued to plague Tunisia periodically despite efforts by the transitional government to reassert stability in the country.
Ben Ali fled the country on January 14 after Tunisia ignited in a grassroots “Arab Spring” uprising that eventually swept through nearly every other Arab country in the Middle East and northern Africa. The country has since banned normalized of ties with Israel under its new constitution.