A Tunisian man imprisoned for his suspected role in the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tunis died of a heart attack after sustaining a hunger strike for nearly two months.
Bechir Golli died yesterday after being transferred to a hospital, confirmed Anoir Ouled Ali, one of his lawyers. Another prisoner on hunger strike, Mohamed Bakth, was released on Wednesday and hospitalized in critical condition, Ouled Ali said.
Police have arrested more than 100 people for their suspected role in violent protests at the U.S. Embassy two months ago, raising tensions between local authorities and the Salafist community that has been blamed for the attack.
Demonstrators, incensed by the depiction of the Prophet Mohamed in an amateur, U.S.-made film, breached the U.S. Embassy and the neighboring American School on September 14 in an incident that left four Tunisians dead and threatened to cool relations with the U.S.
Ouled Ali said that most of the suspects under arrest have not yet been charged.
“All people that were around the embassy were arrested. That’s the problem,” he said. “There’s nothing against them. Golli wanted to prove that he was innocent.”
Golli’s brother told Mosaique FM that the Ministry of Justice rejected requests to release his brother as his health deteriorated.
“Everybody knew that he was in a critical state, but [the authorities] did not take it into consideration,” he said. “He did not hit anyone. He did not do anything. It’s not fair.”
Ouled Ali said that other prisoners are considering a general hunger strike, but plans will not be confirmed till Monday.
A few hundred Tunisian Salafists demonstrated peacefully earlier this month in front of the Ministry of Justice, protesting discrimination against Salafists and demanding the release of suspects arrested following the embassy attack.