Two prisoners suspected of connections to the September 14 attack on the U.S. Embassy temporarily suspended their hunger strikes on Saturday, according to Anoir Ouled Ali, counsel to the accused.
The remainder of the prisoners agreed to suspend their “brutal hunger strike” in favor of a less severe version, said Ouled Ali.
The prisoners’ decisions followed the deaths of two hunger strike participants, Mohamed Bahkti and Bechir Golli.
President Moncef Marzouki expressed his condolences to the families of the two deceased men, and called for an investigation into the matter.
But Marzouki unequivocally stated that “there is no way prisoners can implement a hunger strike to blackmail the government.” He continued, “the door is closed on the use of hunger strikes to undermine the justice system.”
The president’s statements came at a conference on Salafism being held at the Presidential Palace in Carthage. In addition to addressing the events surrounding the September 14 attacks on the U.S. Embassy, Marzouki discussed previous Salafist incidents, including confrontations at Manouba University and a wave of protests sparked by an art exhibition at Abdellia Palace last June.
Marzouki’s statements were echoed by the ruling Ennahdha party, which called “for a quick and transparent investigation to confirm whether any dereliction of duty took place.”
Ennahdha added, “we value life, and it’s the state’s duty to protect it.”