The legal appearances continue

After nine hours of questioning, the speaker of the assembly and the president of the Islamist party Ennahdha Rached Ghannouchi was released on Tuesday, July 19, 2022.

Surrounded by more than a hundred lawyers, 19 of whom pleaded, Rached Ghannouchi was able to plead his case, leaving the investigating judge no option to issue a commitment order. This did not please the prosecution, hierarchically dependent on the Minister of Justice, who immediately appealed at around 9pm last night.

Is Rached Ghannouchi innocent of the accusations attributed to him by social networks and several political figures, or is the case presented to the judge so lightly and sloppily that the judge did not find what to base his case on?

There is one fact that we can no longer deny, that is that Kaïs Saïed’s regime has become a specialist in ill-conceived lawsuits. Spectacular political declarations are rarely followed by concrete effects at the legal level.

This angers the power to the point that it has dismissed dozens of judges who refused to carry out the orders received and turn political statements into judicial decisions.

Rached Ghannouchi’s episode is just the latest in a whole series.

Before him, there were Noureddine Bhiri and Fathi Beldi, who were under house arrest for more than two months before being released without any charges against them. However, Minister of the Interior Taoufik Charfeddine himself stated during a press briefing that they were involved in a terrorist case.

Previously, it was the former head of government, Hamadi Jebali, who was in the regime’s sights. On May 12, the police raided his warehouse and arrested his wife. The Ministry of the Interior talks about a suspicious place where illegal immigrants and dangerous products were found. Since then, nothing more has been heard about this affair. A month later, again, Mr. Jebali is arrested. The Ministry of the Interior stated on June 24 during a press briefing that he was responsible for an association involved in a case of questionable foreign financing and money laundering. Brought before the judge, after a few days in prison, Hamadi Jebali is released.

The same June 24, during this press briefing, the Ministry of the Interior talks about the fact that a terrorist attack did not take place on the Avenue de la Liberté in Tunis and about a plan to assassinate the President of the Republic. Despite the seriousness of the two charges, we are not aware of any legal follow-up on these issues.

It is the same Ministry of the Interior that provoked a series of plans targeting Taoufik Charfeddine or even the residence of the French ambassador in La Marsa. In this regard, it is the president of the republic who moved in the company of the head of government to show the cameras the so-called tunnel that leads from an abandoned house to Dar El Kamila. Honestly, the tunnel in question was just a hole. The case was quickly dismissed by a judge as there was no case at all.

This policy of occupying public opinion with so-called major trials has become a real specialty of the Kaïs Saïed regime. The examples number in dozens.

From his announcement on July 25, the President of the Republic ordered a series of house arrests targeting several political figures, among which we cite the former president of the Anti-Corruption Authority, Chawki Tabib, the advisers of the former head of government Youssef Chahed, Lotfi Ben Sassi and Mofdi Mseddi, former Minister Anouar Maârouf, etc. The Minister of the Interior then ordered and lifted the house arrest without any charges against these individuals, or even a judicial investigation.

In addition to these house arrests, hundreds of travel bans have been ordered against political figures and business leaders. Here too, there is no legal decision behind these arbitrary bans.

Spectacular announcements announcing conspiracies against the President of the Republic abounded. The most famous is still the poisoned envelope. A judicial investigation was indeed initiated, but there was no follow-up.

In other cases, there have certainly been legal proceedings, but these have not resulted in anything concrete, as was the case with the case of Rached Ghannouchi.

Thus we note the arrests of former ministers Samir Taïeb and Mehdi Ben Gharbia. The first ended up being released without a conviction. The other is still languishing in Messâadine prison, although the investigating judge in charge of his case has decided to release him. As luck would have it, this judge is among the 57 dismissed judges.

Another imprisonment without concrete legal steps, the former president Abderrazek Kilani. He was accused of defending his client and colleague Noureddine Bhiri, then on hunger strike and arbitrarily detained.

A prison sentence has also been handed down against former president Moncef Marzouki. He was sentenced to four years in prison for plotting against the state, but the decision has no concrete effect as Mr Marzouki resides in France.

In other cases, there is certainly an opening of a legal investigation followed by a summons to the defendants, but the case is quickly put to sleep in the drawers without giving any concrete follow-up. This is the case with the 121 deputies who were gathered virtually and who were accused of conspiracy against the state. Despite the seriousness of the charges, theoretically sanctioned by the death penalty, the deputies were questioned and then released. For many others, the call-up to the anti-terrorist brigade was simply cancelled.

All this in addition to the cases that occupy the front of the stage without forced passage through the court box.

In this register we note the dismissal of the 57 judges (many of whom claim their innocence and the political conspiracy directed against them), the dissolution of the Superior Council of the Judiciary, the freezing of activities and the dismissal of the staff of the instance the fight against corruption , the attack on the Union for Agriculture and Fisheries, dozens of raids targeting wholesalers (accused of being speculators), etc.

With each episode, Kaïs Saïed’s regime mobilizes public opinion and the media, suggesting that it has got its hands on a corrupt person, an assassin, a terrorist or a speculator. Gullible, a certain opinion swallows the snake without suspecting that there is nothing concrete and that Kaïs Saïed’s political power is only making propaganda, the only purpose of which is to value it in his eyes. It is no coincidence that Rached Ghannouchi was summoned on the eve of the referendum. Mirakel, the judge investigating the case, distinguished himself by his independence… Provided he does not appear alternately on the future list of judges to be dismissed. A list that is already circulating on social networks.

Raouf Ben Hedi

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