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Tunisian court sentences four to death for 2013 assassination of Chokri Belaid

Four people were sentenced Wednesday to death and two to life in prison for a murder that sparked widespread unrest in Tunisia and became emblematic of the country's early challenges transitioning from dictatorship to democracy after the Arab Spring.

Chokri Belaid, the 48-year-old leader of the Popular Front coalition, was a prominent critic of the Islamist Party Ennahda that ascended to power after 2011 uprisings toppled the country’s longtime dictator. His assassination was among a spate of violent episodes that provoked social unrest in 2013 and became emblematic of Tunisia’s early struggles to reconcile its celebrated secular traditions with the revival of long suppressed religious ultraconservatives.

A criminal court tasked with handling terrorism cases handed down 23 sentences for Belaid's murder. The sentences, in addition to the death penalties and life sentences, ranged in length from two to 120 years, a public prosecutor said outside of the court.

Belaid’s brother Abdelmajid Belaid called the sentences “a positive step” and said that supporters were still awaiting the trial of those suspected of planning the assassination.

Several members of Ansar al Sharia were among those sentenced for Belaid’s murder on Wednesday.

(AP)


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