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Tunisian magistrates protest dismissal of colleagues

Tunisian magistrates protest dismissal of colleagues
A general view shows the Ariana tribunal near the Tunisian capital Tunis on June 6, 2022,   -  
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FETHI BELAID/AFP or licensors


Tunisian magistrates have begun a one-week strike in protest of the dismissal of 57 of their colleagues by President Kais Saied last week.

"The strike has begun in all the country's courts and according to our information, it is well attended," Mourad Massoudi, president of the Tunisian Association of Young Magistrates, told AFP.

On Saturday, the unions "strongly condemned the president's continued interference in the judiciary". They accused him of granting himself the power to dismiss them "without any possible recourse", "violating the most basic right to defend oneself, guaranteed in the Constitution".

After strengthening his control over the judiciary, Mr Saied, who took over full powers in July, dismissed the 57 magistrates on charges of corruption and obstructing investigations.

Among the dismissed magistrates who may face prosecution is a former spokesman for the anti-terrorism unit, a former director-general of customs and the former president of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary (CSM).

The dismissals also include magistrates suspected of obstructing the investigation into the 2013 assassinations of two left-wing leaders, Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, blamed on jihadists.

Mr Saied also had the law governing the CSM, the supervisory authority of the Tunisian judiciary, amended so that they could be removed from office, citing a "breach of public security or the supreme interest of the country".

Since 25 July 2021, Kais Saied, who claims to act in the country's interest, has concentrated all powers and ruled Tunisia by decree-law, raising fears of an autocratic drift in the cradle of the Arab Spring.

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