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Saied’s first electoral promises fulfilled: Tunisian media tycoon arrested on corruption charges

Tunisia's new President Kais Saied takes the oath of office on 23 October 2019 in Tunis, Tunisia [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]
Tunisia's new President Kais Saied takes the oath of office on 23 October 2019 in Tunis, Tunisia [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

The new Tunisian president, Kais Saied, has seemingly begun to fulfil his electoral promise to fight corruption and intolerance of misusing public funds. Sami Fehri, the media tycoon and owner of private TV channel El-Hiwar Ettounsi, was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and financial corruption.

A judicial spokesman said on Tuesday that prosecutors arrested Fehri on suspicion of money laundering and financial corruption.

The arrest of Fehri constitutes the latest measure undertaken by the anti-corruption campaign launched this month in Tunisia.

An investigation was launched years ago against Fehri, as the government had previously filed a government lawsuit against the former on corruption charges.

Sufian Al-Sulaiti, a spokesman for the judiciary and the financial pole, said that after hours of interrogating Fehri, an arrest warrant had been issued against Fehri on suspicion of financial corruption and money laundering.

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El-Hiwar Ettounsi has been voicing criticism against Prime Minister Youssef Chahed for nearly a year.

Since Kais Saied, a law professor and newcomer in the Tunisian political scene, was elected president last month, the government, in coordination with the presidency, has re-launched an anti-corruption campaign and announced a financial audit involving the ministry of foreign affairs and public companies.

Four employees of public transport companies were arrested also on charges of embezzling funds.

During his presidential campaign, Saied vowed to fight corruption.

In his first speech as president, Saied said he “will not tolerate wasting one millime (pence) from the money of the Tunisian people.”

According to Tunisia’s Anti-Corruption Commission, corruption has become an epidemic plaguing all sectors, especially health, transport, security and customs, costing the state a loss of up to $ 1 billion per year.

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