Tunisian authorities launched on Saturday the pilot remote trial in the capital Tunis using an active link after preparing two halls at the Mornaguia prison.
The Justice Ministry had decided to allow such trials to maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Two halls were allocated in the first instance court in Tunisia for the court sessions.
Minister of Justice Thouraya Jribi said that this type of trial is set to expedite sentences on criminal cases while under lockdown.
Jribi added that holding remote trial falls within the program for the digitization of the judicial system, and within the framework of a memorandum of understanding signed between the ministries of economy, communications and justice.
“It is a historic first step for the justice and prisons systems,” Jribi noted, saying that the court of first instance was selected because it accounts for 53% of all cases in Tunisia.
Jribi explained that upon a request from the defendant and approval from public prosecution a trial is held remotely. She, however, added that a trial can be held remotely without the defendant’s approval.
“The defense is informed five days prior to trial,” Jribi noted.
Head of the National Bar Association Ibrahim Bouderbala said that lawyers are adjusting positively with this new mechanism.
Bouderbala stressed that remote trials must uphold all principals known to a normal trial and respect the defendant’s rights.
“Lawyers will keep a close eye to check for these fundamentals in all criminal case hearings,” he said.
Bouderbala called on the Ministry of Justice not to limit the use of digitization to criminal cases, but to generalize it to civil and commercial cases to help lawyers avoid time-wasting