Tunisia court dismisses murder charges over death of politician

Sunday 13/11/2016
Prosecutors say they will appeal

TUNIS - A Tunisian court has dismissed murder charges levelled over the 2012 death of an official of the now ruling Nidaa Tounes party, then in opposition, a court spokesman said Tuesday.

The death of Lotfi Naguedh during clashes between rival demonstrators in the southern town of Tatouine sparked an outcry. President Beji Caid Essebsi called it a "political assassination".

But on Monday evening, the court of first instance in Sousse dismissed charges of murder against two defendants and charges of complicity to murder against two others, spokesman Raouf Yousfi said.

The four men were found guilty of participating in acts of violence but were released after time served while awaiting trial.

Six other defendants also went free after being sentenced to jail terms shorter than the time they had already spent in custody.

Prosecutors said they would appeal.

"For us, it's a catastrophe," the Naguedh family's lawyer, Mourad Dalech, told Shems FM radio.

But one of the released defendants hailed the court's decision as a "victory for justice".

"What happened to us was an injustice," Said Chebli said.

"The forces of apostasy which treated us like criminals wanted to bury... the concepts of freedom and dignity."

The exact circumstances of Naguedh's death have always been disputed.

Nidaa Tounes says he was lynched. The interior ministry says that while there were clashes between the rival demonstrators, he died of a heart attack.