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Tunisia Delays Case against Ghannouchi

Tunisia Delays Case against Ghannouchi

Wednesday, 21 September, 2022 - 09:30
Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Tunisian Ennahha party, departs his house to go to the offices of Tunisia's counter-terrorism prosecutor in the capital Tunis on September 20, 2022. (AFP)

A Tunisian judge on Wednesday put off a terrorism hearing against the main opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi until November, and said he would not be held in pre-trial detention, his lawyer said.


Police had questioned Ghannouchi for more than 12 hours overnight over accusations that he had helped Tunisians travel to Syria to fight for ISIS during last decade.


The 81-year-old head of the Islamist Ennahda party, who was also speaker of the dissolved parliament, has denied all the charges and said they are politically motivated.


Another senior Ennahda figure, former Prime Minister Ali Lareyedh, will face a hearing later on Wednesday over the same accusations, which he also denies.


Ghannouchi was summoned to meet the terrorism police on Tuesday and questioned from 5:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday, his lawyer Samir Dilou said. He was also summoned on Monday.


Ennahda has accused police of using the investigation to intimidate them because of the party's opposition to President Kais Saied's seizure of broad powers and shutdown in July 2021 of the elected parliament.


"They were unable to confront a major political opponent in freedom through the ballot box. So they tried to accuse Ennahda of terrorism," Ghannouchi said as he left the court, waving to supporters from the sunroof of a car.


Ghannouchi was also investigated earlier this summer regarding accusations of money-laundering, which he denied.


Saied's critics accuse him of a coup for seizing most powers last year and moving to one-man rule, and of dismantling the democracy won in the 2011 revolution.


Saied says his actions were legal and necessary to save Tunisia from years of political paralysis. In July he passed a new constitution ratifying his expanded powers through a referendum.


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