Tunisia: opponent Jawhar Ben Mbarek sentenced to six months in prison

One year to the day after his arrest, Jawhar Ben Mbarek, the leader of the “Citizens Against the Coup” movement, was sentenced by a court in Tunis to six months in prison for statements criticizing elections, we learned Agence France Presse (AFP) on Saturday February 24 with Me Ayachi Hammami, his lawyer

Tunisia: opponent Jawhar Ben Mbarek sentenced to six months in prison

One year to the day after his arrest, Jawhar Ben Mbarek, the leader of the “Citizens Against the Coup” movement, was sentenced by a court in Tunis to six months in prison for statements criticizing elections, we learned Agence France Presse (AFP) on Saturday February 24 with Me Ayachi Hammami, his lawyer.

Detained in connection with another case of "plot against state security", this co-founder of the National Salvation Front (FSN), the country's main opposition coalition, was convicted for comments critical of the legislative elections of 2022 which he described as a “ridiculous coup d’état”.

Figure of the Tunisian left, aged 56, Jawhar Ben Mbarek is a specialist in constitutional law and former adviser to the presidency of the government. He was convicted under “Decree Law 54”, denounced as a means of “repression” of freedom of expression by several local and international NGOs.

“Jawhar Ben Mbarek was sentenced without the opportunity to defend himself,” his lawyer protested. On hunger strike for 13 days to denounce his detention, described as “arbitrary and unfounded”, according to his defense committee, Mr. Ben Mbarek “was unable, due to his state of health, to travel to the court of first instance and to be present at the hearing,” explained the lawyer. “The judge adjourned the hearing to consider a request for postponement from the defense, but instead he pronounced his verdict which we were only informed of on Saturday,” lamented Me Ayachi, adding that the defense will appeal.

Opponents on hunger strike

“He is sentenced to six months in prison for an offense of opinion, I am really scandalized” responded to AFP Ahmed Néjib Chebbi, the other co-founder of the FSN, a group of which the Islamo-conservative party Ennahdha is also a member. , the pet peeve of President Kais Saied.

Several other opponents, including Issam Chebbi, a well-known FSN official, are also on hunger strike, according to their lawyers. Ennahdha leader Rached Ghannouchi, 82, who had joined the movement, ended his hunger strike on Wednesday to avoid health complications, his party said.

Many Tunisian and international NGOs have condemned the legal proceedings against the opponents and called for their release.

Democratically elected in October 2019 for a five-year mandate, Mr. Saied has granted himself full powers since July 25, 2021, shaking up the young democracy born from the first revolt of the Arab Spring in 2011.