Story highlights

The former president is sentence in absentia

The trial relates to a 1991 coup attempt

He plans to appeal, official news agency says

CNN  — 

A Tunisian military court has sentenced former President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali to five years in prison, the state-run Tunisian News Agency said Wednesday.

Ben Ali was sentenced in absentia late Tuesday for his role in a 1991 case in which 17 servicemen were accused of plotting a coup against his regime, the agency Tunis Afrique Presse said.

The defense plans to appeal, it added.