Trials open in Tu­nisia over deaths of pro­test­ers

Gulf Times - - REGION/ARAB WORLD -

Two trials opened in Tu­nisia yes­ter­day over the killings of pro­test­ers dur­ing the 2011 revo­lu­tion, part of a process aimed at re­dress­ing rights abuses un­der the top­pled regime. Judges will rule on the guilt of de­posed pres­i­dent Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, his for­mer in­te­rior min­is­ter Rafik Bel­haj Kacem and high rank­ing se­cu­rity of­fi­cials. The trials are the first cases un­der the man­date of Tu­nisia’s Truth and Dig­nity Com­mis­sion to cen­tre on pro­test­ers killed dur­ing the revo­lu­tion that sparked the Arab Spring up­ris­ings. The body was set up in 2014 to bring jus­tice for those wronged by Ben Ali’s regime. They are be­ing held in the cen­tral Tunisian cities of Kasser­ine and Sidi Bouzid — the cra­dle of the de­mon­stra­tion move­ment sparked by the De­cem­ber 2010 self-im­mo­la­tion of a fruit seller in protest at po­lice ha­rass­ment. None of the ac­cused were present in court in Sidi Bouzid, much to the dis­ap­point­ment of vic­tims’ rel­a­tives, an AFP jour­nal­ist said. Ben Ali fled into ex­ile in Saudi Ara­bia af­ter the up­ris­ing, while the where­abouts of ex-in­te­rior min­is­ter Kacem are un­known. Ten­sion es­ca­lated and the hear­ing in Sidi Bouzid started two hours late — “a very bad sign”, one rel­a­tive said. “Loyal to the mar­tyrs!”, in­dig­nant au­di­ence mem­bers shouted at the en­trance to the judges’ room. The ac­cused face charges of “in­ten­tional homi­cide with pre­med­i­ta­tion” and “at­tempted homi­cide with pre­med­i­ta­tion”.

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