Ayoub Massoudi, former adviser to Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, was sentenced by a military court on Friday, January 4, to a year in prison for “denigration of the army and affront of senior military officials.” The decision, made during an appeal hearing, increased Massoudi’s punishment from an original four-month sentence with a travel ban. The execution of the sentence is postponed indefinitely.
Massoudi was originally tried for a series of statements in which he accused Joint Chief of Staff General Rachid Ammar and Defense Minister Abdel Karim Zbidi of treason. In particular, he faulted the two military officials of not briefing President Marzouki on the impending extradition of former Libyan prime minister Baghdadi Mahmoudi in June 2012.
Massoudi was initially convicted in September but appealed the verdict, claiming it was politicized. An appeal hearing took place on December 26, but the decision was postponed until January 4. The travel ban, technically lifted in December, remains in effect due to the postponement of his imprisonment.
Article 106 from the Criminal Procedures’ Journal allows the judge to make an independent decision concerning the travel ban, General Undersecretary of the State and Director of Military Justice Marwan Bouguerra explained to Assarih Newspaper. According to Bouguerra, the suspension of the sentence affects the verdict as a whole, meaning that the travel ban lift cannot go into effect during the postponement period.
Bouguerra denounced Massoudi’s family and advocates for sensationalizing the case in the media. He said that a set of procedures exists in the legal system to repeal the court decision and the use of press as a pressure tool is inappropriate.
The court decision deprives Massoudi from civil service, holding public office, receiving medals and distinctions as well as bearing arms.