The first Trial in France of a Tunisian accused of torture in Tunisia.

12/12/2008
Press release
ar en fr

On December 15, the trial of Khaled Ben Saïd will finally take place before the Criminal Court of Strasbourg. Former Vice-consul at Strasbourg, he has been accused of torture against Mrs Gharbi, a Tunisian national, on October 1997 at the police station of Jendouba, while he was a police captain there.

Media Kit

On December 15, the trial of Khaled Ben Saïd will finally take place before the Criminal Court of Strasbourg. Former Vice-consul at Strasbourg, he has been accused of torture against Mrs Gharbi, a Tunisian national, on October 1997 at the police station of Jendouba, while he was a police captain there.

After Mrs Gharbi lodged a criminal complaints for torture on 9 May 2001, an inquiry against Khaled Ben Saïd started on 16 January 2002. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the French League for Human rights (LDH) immediately constituted civil party. The defendant, who was at that time in French territory, returned hastily to Tunisia, having been informed about the proceedings opened against him. He is the target of an international arrest warrant since 15 February 2002. The international regulatory commission delivered by the judge on 2 July 2003 was never executed by the Tunisian authorities. Back in Tunisia, Khaled Ben Saïd would have continued to work within the Tunisian Home Office, without being worried in the least bit.

The trial will thus take place under the procedure in abstencia, also called "non-appearance in court". Mr Ben Saïd will be represented by a lawyer, which will therefore allow him to defend fairly his rights and interests.
This trial should in particular allow breaking the taboo against recourse for torture in Tunisia. It represents the ultimate appeal for the plaintiff to hope to obtain justice in the term of a fair procedure.

This trial is also the second application in France of the mechanism of « universal jurisdiction », after that the former Mauritanian captain Ely Ould Dah was sentenced to a ten years prison term for torture in 2005. This mechanism permits the domestic courts to sue the presumed perpetrators of the most important crimes, regardless of where they have been committed, and regardless of the nationality of the perpetrators’ or victims’ nationalities. It is notably provided for by the International Convention Against Torture and Other Inhumane or Degrading Treatments or Punishments, adopted on 10 December 1984, which is the base for this action in France. This trial will take place, even though a bill examined by the French Parliament tends to call this principle of universal jurisdiction into question, by making it nearly impossible to open new proceedings in France on this basis.

For further information, see the FIDH Judicial Action Group press kit.

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