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Tunisia frees ex-presidential candidate Nabil Karoui

Nabil Karoui, wearing a mask for protection against the coronavirus pandemic, is welcomed by friends and family following his release from prison in Tunis on June 15, 2021.   -  
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ANIS MILI/AFP or licensors


Tunisia's judiciary on Tuesday ordered the release of opposition leader Nabil Karoui, six months after his arrest on financial corruption and tax evasion charges.

Karoui has been on hunger strike since June 5 to protest his prolonged incarceration.

The court appears to have considered that Karoui, 57, leader of the Qalb Tounès party, a member of the government coalition, had spent more time in pre-trial detention than the maximum allowed by law, according to his lawyer Nazih Souii.

Souii told AFP that Mr. Karoui had not yet left prison.

Founder of Tunisia's main private channel Nessma TV, which is partly owned by Silvio Berlusconi, Karoui has been prosecuted since 2017 in a case of money laundering and tax fraud.

Arrested in 2019, he had then spent more than a month in prison in the middle of the election campaign, which had led to fears of a crackdown.

After his release, he was arrested again last December.

Karoui, whose campaign for the presidential election was focused on anti-Islamism and the fight against poverty, was largely defeated by Kaïs Saïed, an academic new to politics, against a backdrop of rejection of the elites in power since the 2011 revolution.

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