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Nabil Karoui, leader of a liberal party who came second in the 2019 presidential election in Tunisia, was released on Tuesday (June 15) after more than six months in pre-trial detention in a money laundering case, AFP noted.
The Court of Cassation seems to have considered that Mr. Karoui, 57, leader of the Qalb Tounès party member of the government coalition, had spent more time in pre-trial detention than the maximum authorized by law, according to his lawyer Nazih Souii.
Mr. Karoui, smiling and raising his fist, left the Mornaguia prison, on the outskirts of Tunis, at the end of the afternoon, welcomed by his wife and elected officials from his party. He went on hunger strike on June 5 to protest against his continued pre-trial detention after the expiry on May 5 of the maximum legal period, which is six months in Tunisia.
Instrumentalisation of justice
Founder of the main Tunisian private channel Nessma TV, which is partly owned by Silvio Berlusconi, Mr. Karoui has been prosecuted since 2017 in a case of money laundering and tax evasion.
Arrested in 2019, he had then spent more than a month in prison in the middle of the electoral campaign, which had raised fears of an instrumentalisation of justice.
Released, he was again arrested in December 2020, and has since been in preventive detention for the same case.
Mr. Karoui, whose presidential program focused on anti-Islamism and the fight against poverty, had been largely defeated by Kaïs Saïed, an academic neophyte in politics, against a background of rejection of the elites in power since the revolution of 2011.