Tunisia sentences eight to jail on terror charges

11th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

A court sentenced eight Tunisians, two of them refugees in Europe, to up to 12 years in jail on charges of belonging to a militant group and inciting terrorism, a lawyer said.

The eight had denied the charges and said their confessions were obtained under torture, lawyer Samir Ben Amor, who is also secretary general of the Association for the Defence of Political Prisoners, told AFP Saturday.

Three of those convicted on Saturday were sentenced to 12 years in jail and included Bilel Beldi and Sami Bouras, who were tried in absentia and are refugees in France and Sweden respectively, he said.

Another was sentenced to two years and the remainder to five years.

They were convicted of belonging to a terrorist group that was not identified and for "incitement to commit terrorist acts", Ben Amor said.

Bilel Beldi, 31, and Sami Bouras, 35, were jailed in 2003 on similar charges and released on parole in 2006 when they left Tunisia to seek asylum in Europe.

Human rights lawyers say more than 2,000 Tunisians have been jailed or put on trial for "terrorism" in recent years.

United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Martin Scheinin said in Tunis in January that there were contradictions in the country's anti-terrorism law and in most cases mere intentions were punished.

Tunisia has been criticised for a decline in political freedoms, with the United States condemning Friday the jailing of television journalist Fahem Boukadous for reporting information deemed threatening to public order.

© 2010 AFP

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