By Tarek Amara
TUNIS (Reuters) -A judge ordered the detention of Tunisian media mogul Nabil Karoui on Thursday on suspicion of financial corruption, a spokesman for the judicial court said Thursday.
Karoui is the leader of the Heart of Tunisia party, the second-largest party in parliament, and has previously run for president. His party is one of three that support the technocratic government in parliament.
If the pro-government parliamentary coalition breaks down it would weaken the government of Hichem Mechichi, which is already facing unprecedented economic hardships and protests in many regions demanding better job opportunities.
The Heart of Tunisia party said in a statement that Karoui had not been found guilty and called on its supporters to remain calm. It condemned what called "campaigns on social media to try to direct the case".
TAP state news agency said Karoui was to face charges of tax evasion and money laundering.
Karoui was arrested in August 2019 but released a few months later on Oct. 9, in the middle of the election, though investigations into his case continued.
Last year, Karoui said he was confident of his innocence and that his political opponents, specifically the Islamist Ennahda Party, were behind his imprisonment. Karoui is now an Ennahda ally in parliament.
(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Alison Williams and Alex Richardson)