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Tunisian judiciary postpones hearing session for Ghannouchi, lawmakers in coup attempt case

Tunisia's parliament speaker and Ennahdha party leader Rached Ghannouchi in the capital Tunis, on September 23, 2021 [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]
Tunisia's parliament speaker and Ennahdha party leader Rached Ghannouchi in the capital Tunis, on September 23, 2021 [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]

The committee for the defence of Tunisian parliamentarians confirmed today that the State Public Prosecution decided to postpone tomorrow's session to investigate seven parliamentarians including Speaker of the House Rachid Ghannouchi.

The National Committee for the Defence of Tunisian Representatives strongly condemned the persecution of elected representatives and their interrogation by the Anti-Terrorism Squad after they participated in a plenary session that cancelled all the exceptional measures taken by President Kais Saied last 25 July.

The defence team also indicated that Saied wants to eradicate his opponents through a political and illegal case, similar to actions taken during the rule of Presidents Bourguiba and Ben Ali. In a statement to MEMO they said they consider the trial a "state scandal".

The deputy speaker of the Tunisian Parliament that Saied dissolved, Maher Madhioub, told MEMO: "The investigation with Parliament Speaker Rashid Ghannouchi and a number of deputies has been postponed to an unspecified date."

Lawyer Monia Bouali explained to MEMO that the decision to postpone the investigation was taken in order to finish listening to the rest of the parties.

The former dean of lawyers, Abdul Razzaq Al-Kilani, told MEMO that "seven MPs are expected to appear before the investigating judge tomorrow, Tuesday, after their participation in the last public session remotely."

The former brigadier general clarified that "the Speaker of Parliament, Rashid Ghannouchi, and his second deputy, Tariq Al-Fititi, are among those who will appear before the investigation, as well as deputies and heads of blocs."

Al-Kilani said: "The charges against them are supposed to be retracted. We believe that is the only decision that should be taken, and we are waiting for it. This is a legal scandal by all accounts, as how can the people's representatives meet and become accused of the attempted coup?"

The head of the parliamentarians' defence committee Samir Dilo said: "The committee that was formed to defend the 120 parliamentarians who participated in the parliamentary session will work to respond to the charges against them and defend them before the courts. We will also confront the smear campaign against a large number of judges."

Regarding the charges facing the MPs, Dilo replied, "According to the questions that were asked by the anti-terror squad last Friday, the parliamentarians are being tried under Chapter 72 of the Penal Code, which provides for the death penalty for the perpetrator of the attack. The attack they are being accused of is changing the state's authority and urging residents to attack each other."

Al-Ayadi added: "An MP does his job and then is charged with a crime. We demand that the judiciary adhere to impartiality and integrity and that they drop this case. All of the free voices and democratic forces must stand against these practices."

READ: Kais Saied is taking Tunisia back to one-man rule

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