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Tunisia: Opposition leader Sihem Bensedrine banned from leaving the country

 Tunisia: Opposition leader Sihem Bensedrine banned from leaving the country
Sihem Ben Sedrine, President of Tunisia's Truth and Dignity Commission (TDC), gives the ...   -  
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FETHI BELAID/AFP or licensors


The Tunisian opposition leader Sihem Bensedrine announced on Tuesday that she has been banned from leaving the country after being charged in connection with an investigation into a report by a body she chaired on crimes committed under the dictatorship.

Created in 2014 in the wake of the revolt that ended the dictatorship in 2011, the Truth and Dignity Commission (IVD) was tasked with cataloguing violations committed by state officials between 1955 and 2013, a period that covers the presidency of Habib Bourguiba (1957-1987), his successor Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (1987-2011), but also the post-revolutionary troubles.

At the end of its mandate in 2018, the IVD drafted a voluminous report that was published in the Official Gazette in 2020.

In a statement sent to AFP, Ms. Bensedrine said that since February 2021, she has been the subject of a judicial investigation for suspected falsification of this report.

She is suspected of having received a bribe to add a paragraph accusing the Banque Franco-Tunisienne (BFT) of corruption, which she denies, according to the statement

Bensedrine was banned from leaving the country after being summoned on Thursday by an investigating judge at the financial and economic judicial centre, who notified her of her indictment for "obtaining unjustified advantages", "causing damage to the state" and "falsification", on the basis of a request from the public prosecutor's office dated February 20, 2023, she said in the statement.

She expressed surprise that the measures against her were announced on 17 February by a columnist "reputedly close to the Minister of Justice".

No comment on the case could be obtained from judicial sources.

In its final report, the IVD, which interviewed nearly 50,000 alleged victims and referred 173 cases to the courts, called for the "dismantling of a system of corruption, repression and dictatorship" persisting within state institutions.

Some 20 political, media and business figures have been arrested in Tunisia since early February.

President Kais Saied, who assumed full powers in July 2021, has described those arrested as "terrorists" and claimed they were involved in a "plot against state security".

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