A Tunisian court sentenced Rached Ghannouchi in absentia to one year in prison Monday following indictment charges after his arrest in April. Ghannouchi is the opposition figure in Tunisia heading the Ennahda party.
His lawyer, Monia Bouali, conveyed that the 81-year-old head of the Ennahda party has been in prison since April on charges of “incitement to violence” after police authorities raided his home. This is seen as a major step in Tunisian President Kais Saeid’s crackdown on the opposition in recent months, along with the arrests of activists, journalists, judges, and politicians. The targeting of critics and perceived political opponents is part of a broader regression of human rights in the country.
It is said that the arrest and conviction were due to a eulogy delivered by Ghannouchi in the city of Gabes advocating for the rights to freedom of speech and expression. Ghannouchi refused to attend criminal proceedings in the judicial court, reasoning that the charge was fabricated and that the trial was political.
The Tunisian government also banned all the meetings held in Ennahda’s offices and the headquarters of Salvation Front, the largest opposition coalition. The government authorities have not commented on the issue. However, President Kais Saeid stated that “no one is above the law” and that he will not resent holding those responsible for crimes against the nation accountable.