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Four Tunisians sentenced to death for 2013 murder of politician Chokri Belaid

Four people were sentenced to death and two to life in prison on Wednesday after a decade-long investigation into the 2013 killing of Tunisian secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid.

Tunisia still hands down death sentences, particularly in "terrorism" cases, even though a de facto moratorium in effect since 1991 means they are effectively commuted to life terms.

Belaid's assassination, which was claimed by jihadists loyal to the Islamic State group, dealt a heavy blow to the fledgling democracy established after the overthrow of longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in the first of the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011.

The slow pace of the investigation triggered accusations of obstructionism against the then ruling Islamist party Ennahdha that have been used by secular President Kais Saied to justify his 2021 power grab that has seen the party outlawed.

The court's judgement was announced on national television early Wednesday after 15 hours of deliberation.

In total, 23 people received sentences ranging from two to 120 years while five defendants were acquitted.

Prosecutor Aymen Chtiba welcomed the sentences, saying: "Justice has been done".

Fierce opponent

A fierce critic of Ennahdha, Belaid was killed on 6 February 2013, in his car outside his home.

Last year, the justice ministry set up a special commission to carry out an "in-depth" study of the police and judicial investigations.


Read more on RFI English

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