Tunisia appeals trial of jailed Femen protesters resumes

26th June 2013, Comments 0 comments

The Tunisian appeals trial of three European women from the radical protest group Femen, jailed for baring their breasts, resumed on Wednesday, with their lawyers hoping to avoid another delay.

The hearing began at about 1000 GMT at the court of appeal in the capital Tunis, with the women -- two French and one German -- dressed in the traditional Tunisian veil, or safsari.

Shortly beforehand, one of their lawyers told AFP the defence would reject any new delays to the trial and hoped to see the women freed by the end of the week.

"We will ask the judge to refuse any delay and give his ruling on the whole case," including the request by Islamists to take part as a civil party, said Souhaib Bahri.

"We hope they will be freed," he said, adding he expected a verdict in three or four days.

The three women, Marguerite Stern and Pauline Hillier from France and Josephine Markmann from Germany, staged their bare-breasted protest in Tunis on May 29.

They were sentenced on June 12 to four months in jail for indecency and an attack on public morals over the protest in support of Amina Sboui, a detained Tunisian activist with the same "sextremist" group.

Sboui was arrested for painting the word "Femen" on a wall near a cemetery in the central city of Kairouan last month, in protest against a planned gathering of radical Salafists, and risks prison terms of two years and six months respectively for desecrating a cemetery and indecency.

The initial appeal was adjourned last week to allow Islamist groups angered by the topless protest to contest the court's decision to reject their request to participate in the trial as a civil party.

On the eve of Wednesday's hearing, three topless feminist activists in Brussels jumped on visiting Tunisian Prime Minister Ali Larayedh's car, demanding their jailed comrades in the North African country be released.

Also on Wednesday, radical Salafists gathered outside the main courthouse in Tunis to protest against the prosecution of hardline youths being prosecuted under anti-terrorism laws.

© 2013 AFP

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