Tunisia starts to free political prisoners

Tunisia's new government offered a blanket amnesty to all political groups including the Islamist opposition.

Tunisia starts to free political prisoners

Tunisia's new government offered a blanket amnesty to all political groups including the Islamist opposition.

The pledge came in the ruling coalition's first cabinet meeting. Protesters have complained that despite a promised amnesty, only a few hundred of those imprisoned for political reasons during the 23-year rule of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali had been released.

"We are in agreement for a general amnesty," said Higher Education Minister Ahmed Ibrahim, an opposition party leader who joined the coalition after Ben Ali's ouster.

Asked if the amnesty would include people jailed for membership of Ennahda, an opposition Islamist movement that was repressed by Ben Ali's security services, Ibrahim told Reuters: "Yes, of course, everybody will be part of this amnesty."

At the Borj Lamary prison, just outside Tunis, a bus emerged carrying inmates released under a government order to free all political prisoners.

Among those freed was Sameer Hagouba, who said he had been studying at the Islamic Al Azhar University in Egypt when he was deported on "terrorism-related charges" and imprisoned in his native Tunisia.

"Does this look like the face of terrorism?" asked Hagouba, a young man with a light and carefully trimmed beard. "We call now for all political prisoners to be released..."

Agencies

Last Mod: 21 Ocak 2011, 12:07
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