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Tunisia jails ex-minister on charges of crossing borders, illicit enrichment

March 9, 2023 at 9:49 am

Former agriculture minister Mohamed Ben Salem takes the Oath of Office during the country’s new government swearing-in ceremony at the Carthage Palace in Tunis [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]

A Tunisian judge has jailed the country’s former Minister of Agriculture, Mohamed Ben Salem, on charges of “crossing the borders without permission, possession of foreign currency and illicit enrichment.”

Lawyer Mukhtar Al-Jamai, a member of Ben Salem’s defence team, told the Anadolu Agency: “The investigating judge of the Gabes Court issued an imprisonment order against Bin Salem on charges of participating in a group to facilitate crossing the borders [with Libya] without permission and violating the exchange laws [possession of foreign currency without a license] and illicit enrichment.”

“Ben Salem was questioned in the Intensive Care Unit of the heart patients department at Al-Hadi Shaker Hospital in the city of Sfax, where Bin Salem resides since his arrest,” Al-Jamai added. The session lasted “five hours and 20 minutes and was stopped three times to provide medical intervention to Bin Salem,” he explained.

Al-Jamai said that the former minister “is being prosecuted after a verbal report by a security officer who says that he was informed that Bin Salem possesses real estate and billions.”

“The case is political to liquidate political opponents and symbols of the post-revolution stage and it does not depend on any definitive material evidence,” Al-Jamai added.

He stressed that Bin Salem is in no physical condition to leave the country and that his detention coincided with a judicial session in Tunis to consider lifting the travel ban against him.

The Tunisian judiciary did not issue any statements on this case.

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