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Tunisia: Former National Bar Association head under military investigation

Tunisian flag in Tunis, Tunisia on December 08, 2020 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]
Tunisian flag in Tunis, Tunisia on December 08, 2020 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

Two Tunisian attorneys confirmed on Friday that the authorities have referred former head of the National Bar Association Abderrazak Kilani for military investigation.

Attorney Hosni Al-Baji posted on Facebook: "My friend and fellow, Abderrazak Kilani, was referred to the military investigative judge."

"He was referred due to his opinion, which he expressed, that it is not necessary to oblige the executive authority's officials, especially the security agents, with instructions that violate the constitution and the law," Al-Baji added.

Another attorney, who asked not to be named, said that Kilani: "Received an invitation yesterday through a notification addressed to the office of the branch's head of the National Bar Association in Tunis."

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"The notification did not specify the date of the hearing or the charges brought against Kilani, provided that the military investigative judge shall send a second notification to the National Bar Association to set the date of the hearing and the charges," the attorney elaborated.

It is noteworthy that Kilani is a member of the defence committee for parliament member Noureddine Bhiri, 63, who is under house arrest.

On 3 January, Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine announced that Bhiri and former official in the Ministry of Interior Fathi Al-Baldi were placed under house arrest on charges relating to "suspicion of terrorism". The charges concerned the illegal issuance of travel documents and Tunisian citizenship to a Syrian national and his wife.

Charfeddine affirmed that the Ministry of Interior would prosecute anyone involved in breaking into the Menzel Jemil security centre in Bizerte, where Bhiri was detained before being transferred to hospital.

On 2 January, Bhiri was transferred to the intensive care unit in a hospital in Bizerte after his health seriously deteriorated due to his hunger strike in protest of his detention since 31 December.

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There was no immediate comment by Tunisian authorities regarding Kilani's case.

Tunisia has witnessed a political crisis since 25 July, when "exceptional measures" were imposed, including suspending the parliament, issuing legislation by presidential decrees, dismissing the prime minister and appointing a new government.

Most political forces in Tunisia reject President Kais Saied's exceptional decisions and consider them a "coup against the constitution", while other forces support them as a "correction of the course of the 2011 revolution", which overthrew former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

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