Tunisia: Prosecutors block planned release of opposition figure

Ahmed Nejib Chebbi (R), leader of Tunisia’s opposition National Salvation Front party arrives at the offices of Tunisia’s counter-terrorism prosecutor, Tunis, June 16, 2023.
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Tunisia

Tunisia’s state prosecutor on Friday appealed against a judge’s decision to release opposition figure Chaima Issa four months after she was detained for “plotting” against the state, according to her lawyers.

Issa would have walked free following a decision taken by the counterterrorism court, but the prosecution appealed against it.

“They (the public prosecutor) have appealed. Why? I can’t explain it, but it’s politics too. It wasn’t the public prosecutor who decided to appeal on his own initiative. On the contrary, he’s there under orders. So we have to find out why there was this order and this counter-order. In fact, it’s a sign of the instability in Tunisia,” shares Ahmed Néjib Chebbi, president of the National Salvation Front.

The member of Tunisia’s main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front (NSF), was arrested along with some 20 other opposition members, media and business figures in February.

“I think there’s only one political decision-making centre. It’s that of the Head of State. All those around him are executors. And the judicial authorities are brought into line and apply directives. So personally, I think that the decision to release Chaïma Issa cannot be an autonomous decision by the examining magistrate. He must have received instructions to release her,” adds the president of the NSF.

In July 2021, President Kais Saied froze parliament and dismissed the government, a decision that considerably undermined the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings.

His critics have dubbed the move a “coup” while human rights groups condemned a “witch hunt” aimed at “repressing” freedom of opinion in the North African country.

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