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Tunisia judge: 'Newly appointed intelligence chief has record of repression'

Tunisian expatriates shout slogans while holding Tunisian flags as they demonstrate on January 15, 2011 in Paris, France. [Franck Prevel/Getty Images]
Tunisian expatriates shout slogans while holding Tunisian flags as they demonstrate on January 15, 2011 in Paris, France. [Franck Prevel/Getty Images]

A Tunisian judge has deplored President Kais Saied's appointment of one of "the executioners of the Gafsa mining basin uprising" as head of the Intelligence Directorate at the Interior Ministry on account of his record of human rights violations.

Judge Ahmed Rahmouni, head of a department at the Court of Cassation, tweeted: "Is it possible that the man's history is missing from the files of the Interior Ministry, and that Mr Ridha Gharselawi, who is in charge of managing the Interior Ministry, needs someone to reveal the exploits of his delegates, so as not to mislead the president?"

Rahmouni added that the new intelligence chief Sami Yahyaoui: "Has held various posts, to become later head of Gafsa's regional police department from 2006 until 2008, following his active participation in the suppression of the mining basin revolt." Rahmouni noted that he was later appointed as security attaché at the Tunisian Embassy in Egypt.

The judge pointed out that everyone who followed up the stages of the official's career reported that he was one of the most prominent figures to play a role in suppressing the protest movements in the region, particularly against unemployed university degree holders.

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Is Tunisia's state of emergency being used to restrict freedoms? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Is Tunisia's state of emergency being used to restrict freedoms? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Rahmouni stated that the current intelligence director personally supervised the local defence committee of the unemployed in Redeyef in 2007 and assaulted female activists, including Afef Bel-Nasser and Zakia Amrossia, among others.

Despite all the testimonies proving Yahyaoui's involvement in repressive practices, Rahmouni argues: "Nothing proves that he was subjected to any criminal or disciplinary accountability for his actions from 2006 to 2008. It is rather clear that his record did not carry any negative impact on his career."

Last month, Tunisian media reported that Saied dismissed the Director of Intelligence at the Interior Ministry Lazhar Longo and temporarily assigned Muhammad Al-Sharif to replace him before appointing Yahyaoui.

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