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Tunisia military court frees two opposition lawmakers

A group of people, including lawyers and human rights activists, gather to stage a protest in support of leader of Tunisia's Dignity Coalition, Seifeddine Makhlouf, who has been imprisoned since September 30, in Tunis, Tunisia on 21 October 2021. [Yassine Gaidi - Anadolu Agency]
A group of people, including lawyers and human rights activists, gather to stage a protest in support of leader of Tunisia's Dignity Coalition, Seifeddine Makhlouf, who has been imprisoned since September 30, in Tunis, Tunisia on 21 October 2021. [Yassine Gaidi - Anadolu Agency]

A Tunisian military court has released Seifeddine Makhlouf, head of the conservative Karama Party, and another party member, Nidal Saudi, amid growing concerns over human rights abuses after President Kais Saied seized power last year.

Both Makhlouf and Saudi were arrested in September last year and charged with assaulting policemen.

"The Public Prosecution asked the court to renew their imprisonment, but the military court refused the request and ordered their released.

On 25 July 2021, Saied dismissed the prime minister, suspended parliament, and assumed all governing powers, a move described by Tunisian opposition parties as a coup.

Since Saied's intervention, several senior politicians and business leaders have been detained or prosecuted, many of them on charges of corruption or defamation.

Human rights groups have criticised some of the arrests and the use of military courts to prosecute cases.

Saied has promised to uphold the rights and freedoms won in Tunisia's 2011 revolution, which ushered in democracy and triggered the "Arab Spring" uprisings across the region.

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