Conviction of Khaled Ben Saïd: A victory against impunity in Tunisia

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On the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of the accession to power in Tunisia of President Ben Ali on November 7, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the French League for Human Rights (LDH) publish a report on the case of Khaled Ben Saïd, former Vice-Consul of Tunisia in France who, on 24 September in Nancy, was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment for having given instructions to commit acts of torture on the person of Mrs. Gharbi on October 11 and 12, 1996 as he was the chief of the Jendouba police station in Tunisia. The Nancy Criminal Court thereby increased by eight years the sentence delivered in first instance by the Strasburg Criminal Court on December 15, 2008.

The report published today, entitled Conviction of Khaled Ben Saïd: A victory against impunity in Tunisia reviews almost ten years of proceedings led by the civil parties on the basis of universal jurisdiction, to render justice to Mrs. Gharbi. This report also reviews the recurrent practise of torture in Tunisia which is still ongoing in 2010.

The Ben Saïd case has highlighted the impunity that persists in Tunisia for the most serious crimes, including torture, and has also reasserted the importance of universal jurisdiction as an indispensable instrument in the fight against impunity” said Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH.

Background to the legal proceedings – After Mrs. Gharbi filed, on 9 May, 2001, a complaint for torture, a preliminary investigation against Khaled Ben Saïd was opened on 16 January, 2002. FIDH and LDH immediately joined the proceedings as civil parties. The accused, who was at the time on the French territory where he was serving as Vice-Consul of Tunisia in Strasbourg, hurriedly returned to Tunisia after being informed that legal proceedings had been initiated against him. Since 15 February 2002, an international arrest warrant has been delivered against him. The international rogatory commission issued by the investigative judge on 2 July, 2003 was never executed by the Tunisian authorities. Back in Tunisia, Khaled Ben Saïd is said to have continued, unworried, to work in the Tunisian Ministry of Interior. He had designated a lawyer to represent him during his first trial on 15 December 2008, before the Strasbourg Criminal court.

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