Ben Ali, who is exiled in Saudi Arabia, was found guilty of “inciting disorder, murder and looting,” the court said in its verdict over the deaths of four youths, shot dead in the town of Ouardanine in mid-January 2011.
Several of Ben Ali’s aides also received sentences of 5 to 10 years in jail, the official TAP news agency reported.
Last month, a Tunisian military prosecutor demanded that the death penalty be imposed on the former strongman for his role in the deaths of hundreds of protesters in the central Tunisian towns where the Arab Spring began last year.
However, there is little indication that Riyadh would be willing to extradite Ben Ali.
No senior officials have so far been convicted for the deaths of more than 300 people in last year’s uprising, angering the families of the dead and raising pressure on the Tunisian government to ensure that justice is done.