Tunisia arrests opposition MP: lawyer

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Tunisia (AFP) – Tunisian security officials detained a prominent critic of President Kais Saied early Saturday following a military court ruling, his lawyer told AFP.

Seifeddine Makhlouf was charged with defaming the police during an attack on Tunis airport in March 2021.

Makhlouf, the head of the Islamist nationalist group Al-Karama, shouted “down with the government” and “long live Tunisia” before being bundled into a car, according to a Facebook video posted not a lawyer.

Rights groups say military trials of civilians have become increasingly common in Tunisia since Saied came to power.

The Tunis military appeals court on Friday sentenced Makhlouf to 14 months in prison immediately, his lawyer Ines Harrath told AFP.

The court sentenced him to five months in prison.

“About 25 policemen in plainclothes surrounded his house at 11:00 PM,” Harrath said.

After two hours, “they went to the house, and he went with them”.

Makhlouf has been an outspoken critic of Saied, who in July 2021 suspended parliament and seized the government’s most powerful powers in what critics called a “dictatorship” and a coup d’état. democracy emerged from the Arab Spring revolution in more than a decade. past.

Later Saied took control of the court and pushed through a new constitution that gave his office unlimited power.

Makhlouf in March 2021 led a group of Al-Karama MPs to Tunis airport in an attempt to force the authorities to allow a woman to travel, and showed the combination that was widely circulated on the internet. He was under a travel ban.

The court on Friday also sentenced some members of Karama to short prison sentences, but they were not arrested.

Makhlouf also received a one-year prison sentence last February for “assaulting the honor of the army”, after losing his parliamentary immunity when Saied took power.

He was also banned from practicing as a lawyer for five years.

A military court upheld the one-year prison sentence in June, but his lawyer said in the case that he would appeal.

“Putting civilians on trial in military courts is an attack on liberties,” Harrath said. “This case is related to the status of those accused on Kais Saied”.

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