BEIRUT (AFP) - Former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the first leader toppled in a wave of Arab uprisings, has denied all charges against him on the eve of his trial in absentia back home. Ben Ali, who faces charges related to theft, drugs and weapons at a criminal court in Tunis on Monday, "strongly denies all charges they are trying to press as he never possessed the sums of money they claimed to have found in his office," his Beirut-based lawyer Akram Azoury said. Ben Ali "hopes with all his heart that Tunisia will overcome its current chaos and darkness and continue its path to progress," he added in a statement released on Sunday.