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Tunisia: lawyers demand immediate release of colleague

Mehdi Zagrouba [Twitter]
Mehdi Zagrouba [Twitter]

Lawyers in Tunisia have called for the "immediate" release of their colleague Mehdi Zagrouba, who was arrested in what has been dubbed "the airport raid case". The demand was made yesterday by the Kasserine branch of the Tunisian Order of Lawyers (ONAT), which used Facebook to urge all lawyers to defend Zagrouba.

ONAT's statement requested its doyen, Ibrahim Bouderbala, to head a defence committee on behalf of the detained lawyer. It also denounced the move to detain Zagrouba even before he was questioned. The organisation pointed out that this move is an explicit violation of the requirements of Chapter 80 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and a clear breach of the accused's legitimate rights.

The lawyers' group also expressed surprise at the involvement of the military judiciary in the case. "The same parties, facts and subject matter have been examined by the civil judiciary since March 2021," it noted. "[Involving the military] is a flagrant violation of the provisions of the decree regulating the legal profession and the procedures to be followed when prosecuting lawyers."

Moreover, the ONAT branch said that "The prosecution of civilians before military courts is a flagrant violation of the provisions of Chapter 110 of the Constitution and international treaties and covenants." It added that referring lawyers and civilians to military courts are incompatible with the conditions of a fair trial.

READ: Tunisia MPs call for deadline to suspend exceptional measures

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