Four Sentenced to Death, Two to Life Imprisonment for Assassination of Tunisian Opposition Leader Chokri Belaid

A court in Tunisia has handed down sentences in the case of the assassination of opposition leader Chokri Belaid, which occurred 11 years ago. Four individuals have been sentenced to death, while two others have received life imprisonment. The verdict was confirmed by the deputy public prosecutor of the anti-terror judicial division on Wednesday.

Belaid, the secretary-general of the Democratic Patriots Party, was shot dead in his car outside his home on February 6, 2013. He had been a vocal critic of the ruling Islamist party Ennahdha, accusing them of turning a blind eye to violence perpetrated by extremists against secularists. His assassination triggered widespread public outrage, leading to massive protests and one of the largest public outpourings of grief in Tunisian history, with an estimated one million people taking to the streets.

The court had charged a total of 23 individuals in connection with the murder, resulting in sentences ranging from two to 120 years for other defendants, while five were acquitted. The trial has been closely watched, as it raised questions about the independence of Tunisia’s judiciary and security forces in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising that toppled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Months after Belaid’s assassination, another opposition figure, Mohamed Brahimi, was also shot under similar circumstances, leading to further political pressure and the government’s subsequent resignation. The authorities attributed both killings to Ansar al-Sharia, a Salafist group suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda, which was designated a terrorist organization in August 2013.

Belaid’s family and secularist politicians had accused Ennahdha party leaders, who were in power at the time, of being behind the assassination. However, Ennahdha vehemently denies any involvement and stated that the details concluded by the judicial circles clearly demonstrate their innocence. The party hopes that the verdict will restore respect to those who have been falsely accused, particularly their leader, Rached Ghannouchi, who was recently sentenced to three years in prison amid a government crackdown on the opposition.

Author: CrimeDoor

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