Tunisia: president blames unemployed protesters after "Black Monday" repression

Police in Tunis used tear gas and baton-charges against unemployed protestors demanding jobs and relief on April 9. President Moncef Marzouki decried the violence, but criticized the protesters for holding an unauthorized demonstration. "Such a degree of violence is unacceptable,” he said on national television, blaming "the unacceptable standoff between the state that has banned demonstrations on Bourguiba Avenue and those who deliberately violated the ban." At least 15 civilians and eight police officers were reported injured in the street clashes. The violence, the worst in the capital since last year's revolution, has been dubbed "Black Monday" by protesters and the press. (AFP, Now Lebanon, April 10)

Appeals court upholds conviction of ex-president for torture
A Tunisian military appeals court upheld the convictions against ex-president Zine al Abidine Ben Ali on April 7 for torturing military officers over an alleged coup plot in 1991. The appeals court reduced the four-year sentences against individuals formerly in Ben Ali's government, including the interior minister and head of state security, by two years from four years, but upheld Ben Ali's five-year sentence. The sentence against Ben Ali was handed down in absentia because he fled Tunisia in January 2011 and has been in exile in Saudi Arabia since then. Defense lawyers stated that the charges were baseless and that the incident was a "state security issue." They stated that they intend to appeal the ruling. Ben Ali has also been sentenced to an additional 15 years on drug and gun charges and another 35 years on theft and other charges. (Jurist, April 7)

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