News / Middle East

Opposition Leader's Murder Tests Tunisia's Judiciary

Henry Ridgwell
Tunisian judges complain that two years after the ousting of President Zine El Abdine Ben Ali, the government is still interfering in the justice system. Following arrests made Thursday in the murder investigation of opposition leader Chokri Belaid, the case presents one of the biggest tests for the judiciary.

Rows of razor wire and army vehicles surround the courthouse in Tunis. At the entrance, lawyers in their customary black and white robes are trailed by their defendants and dozens of interested onlookers.

Above, banners bearing the face of assassinated opposition leader Chokri Belaid hang from the colonnades.

Demands for justice over the killing are matched by accusations from the opposition that an independent investigation is impossible.

Raoudha Karafi (VOA/H. Ridgwell)Raoudha Karafi (VOA/H. Ridgwell)
x
Raoudha Karafi (VOA/H. Ridgwell)
Raoudha Karafi (VOA/H. Ridgwell)
Raoudha Karafi, vice president of the Association of Tunisian Magistrates and advisor to the Supreme Court, urges justices to take responsibility despite the absence of institutional safeguards for the independence of the judges. She adds that the future of Tunisian justice really depends on their work.

Karafi wears a red ribbon on her arm - a symbol of protest by magistrates who say the government is still interfering in the justice system.

She says reform has not taken place in Tunisia. The Superior Council of the Judiciary, she says, is a council inherited from the old regime that has no legitimacy. The Minister of Justice, she says, sometimes uses the system to reprimand judges as in the recent instance of 81 judges suspended without any recourse or chance to defend themselves.

Banners showing assassinated opposition leader Chokri Belaid outside the main courthouse in Tunis. (VOA/H. Ridgwell)Banners showing assassinated opposition leader Chokri Belaid outside the main courthouse in Tunis. (VOA/H. Ridgwell)
x
Banners showing assassinated opposition leader Chokri Belaid outside the main courthouse in Tunis. (VOA/H. Ridgwell)
Banners showing assassinated opposition leader Chokri Belaid outside the main courthouse in Tunis. (VOA/H. Ridgwell)
Many Tunisians complain that the justice system is still not fair or fully independent.

Over several shots of strong coffee at a popular café opposite the court, lawyers discussed Belaid's killing.

One lawyer says that now, as after every revolution, there is a crisis. He considers it as a step that all people who go through a revolution must cross.

A female colleague says revolution is dangerous and with the murder of Belaid and weapons circulating freely, there are reasons to be afraid.

Many opposition supporters blame the killing on the ruling Ennahda party.

Government spokesman and Ennahda member Samir Dilou insists there will be an independent investigation.

Dilou says there must be answers on three levels. First, she says, the criminal responsibility will be determined with evidence. Second, she says there must be an analysis of the circumstances of the case. And third, she says a political responsibility should be based on the findings in the case.

The government says it takes time to reform the institutions that were corrupted under former President Ben Ali. The investigation into Belaid's assassination will test how far those reforms have come.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs