The appeal hearing of the Tunisian rapper Ala Yaakoubi, known as Weld el 15, started Tuesday morning in the court of appeals in Bab Bnet, Tunis and finished mid-afternoon the same day. The court has delayed a decision on the appeal until July 2, according to various news outlets including radio station Mosaique FM, and Yaakoubi will remain in prison.
Lawyers representing Yaakoubi had requested the hearing to appeal a decision issued earlier in June by the court of first instance of Ben Arous. In that trial, the two-year prison sentence that Yaakoubi had been given in absentia in March was was confirmed. He was convicted on charges included including conspiracy to commit violence against police officers in his music video “Boulicia Kleb” (Cops are Dogs).
Several rappers went to the court on Tuesday to support their colleague and reported a heavy police presence at the hearing.
“This is a political trial, he must be released,” Bendir Man, one of the rappers who came to support Yaakoubi, told AFP.
The feminist activist group Femen also voiced their support for Yaakoubi throughout the hearing. In Brussels, topless Femen activists swarmed the Tunisian Prime Minister’s motorcade with the message “Free Weld el XV” written on their chests. They also wrote messages in support of imprisoned blogger Jabeur Mejri.
At the hearing, Yaakoubi was wearing a black t-shirt with the words “hands handcuffed with a free mind” written on the back, reported Huffington Post Maghreb.
According to a Facebook page in support of Weld el 15, police asked the rapper if he wanted to present his reasons for making the video.
“I will answer only to those who are honorable. As for others, I stand by what I say,” he responded.