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Former president among accused in revolution ‘homicide’ trial in Tunisia

July 14, 2018 at 11:19 am

Former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali

The former President of Tunisia and his Interior Minister are among the defendants in a murder trial in Tunisia, Anadolu has reported. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and 24 others, including senior security officers, are accused of “intentional homicide” and participation in “murder”.

The case against the defendants relates to those who were killed or wounded in the city of Kasserine, where the trial is being held, and the nearby town of Thala during the January 2011 Revolution.

Anadolu said that the trial has arisen within the framework of the Transitional Justice Law after the case was referred by the Truth and Dignity Commission (Constitutional) in May to the Specialised Judicial Chamber of the Kasserine Court. This followed complaints by the families of the revolutionary martyrs and wounded, many of whom were present at the opening of proceedings. They were joined in court by civil society and human rights organisations, including the Justice and Rehabilitation Association (a coalition of associations which defend transitional justice in Tunisia) and the Association of the Families of the Martyrs and Wounded of the Revolution, Awfiaa.

Sami Nasri is seeking justice on behalf of his late brother Mohammed, and said that his family have complete confidence in the civil judiciary. He described the sentences issued by the military judges as “ridiculous” and added that they were unfair to the families who offered their children for freedom and dignity.

In April 2014, the Military Court of Appeal in Tunis issued verdicts on the cases of the martyrs and the wounded of the revolution, including just three years imprisonment for former Interior Minister Rafiq Belhaj Kacem, former presidential security chief Ali Seriati and other security chiefs. Ben Ali, meanwhile, was sentenced in absentia to life in prison.

“This case has made me hopeful again,” said lawyer Lamia Al-Farhani. “It is a new test for the transitional justice system in Tunisia to bring justice to the families of the martyrs and the wounded of the revolution.” She pointed out that 20 people were martyred and 1,281 others were wounded in the province of Kasserine during the revolution.