The First Assistant to the Public Prosecutor at Tunisia’s judicial hub for the fight against organised crime and terrorism (PJ – Pôle judiciaire) has opened an investigation into 21 opponents of President Kais Saied, on charges of terrorism and money laundering.
The defendants, including the head of the Ennahda Movement, Sheikh Rashid Ghannouchi, former Prime Minister, Ali Laarayedh, and others, were charged with forming a terrorist organisation, incitement to commit murder, and using the republic’s soil for training for a terrorist act.
Among the charges being investigated are concealing movable or immovable sources of funds for the purpose of financing terrorist individuals or organisations, conspiring against state security with the intent of changing the state’s structure, contacting foreign countries to harm Tunisia diplomatically, and committing an abominable act against the head of state.
The First Assistant to the Public Prosecutor at the Judicial Pole entrusted the First Investigating Judge in Office 36 to handle the case against Ghannouchi, Laarayedh and 19 others.
Earlier, a judge sentenced Ghannouchi to one year in prison on suspicion of incitement against the police.
Ghannouchi, 81, has been in prison since April, after the police arrested him at his home on suspicion of plotting against state security.
He decided not to appear before the judiciary, rejecting what he said were “fabricated political trials.”
Earlier this year, police also arrested several prominent political figures who accused Saied of staging a coup in which he dissolved parliament and began ruling by decree before drafting a new constitution.
Saied says that his measures are legal and necessary to save Tunisia from chaos and a decade of “ruin”, describing his opponents as criminals, traitors and terrorists, and urging the authorities to take action against them.
Last month, the Tunisian authorities banned meetings in all Ennahda’s offices, and the police also closed the headquarters of the National Salvation Front, the main opposition alliance.