A total of 76 people have been sentenced for the killing of eight soldiers in territory close the Algerian border during Ramadan of 2013.
Of the 76, only seven were present in Court to hear their sentences being handed down,. The rest are currently being sought by authorities both in Tunisia and Algeria, where many of the 2013 attackers are thought to have originated.
Four of those present in Court, (all Tunisian) received sentences of seven years, one 13 years and one the death penalty, (on moratorium since 1991). A further individual was acquitted of all charges.
Prosecution spokesman Sofiene Sliti, speaking to AFP, said that the remaining 69 were sentenced in absentia to prison terms ranging from 40 years to the death penalty. Sliti did not provide details on the number of death sentences handed down.
The killing of the soldiers came at a critical time for Tunisia, occurring around one week after the assassination of opposition politician, Mohamed Brahmi. At the time of the attack, all eight of the soldiers were patrolling the area around Mount Chaambi when they were ambushed by militants believed to have been affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The killings was among the first in post revolutionary Tunisia and marked a watershed for both the country’s security services and media, with mainstream television channels and social media all carrying brutal images of the slain soldiers’ corpses, five of which had been mutilated after death.
Commenting upon yesterday’s convictions, Ludovico Carlino, Senior Analyst, for the Middle East and North Africa at IHS Markit Country Risk told Tunisia Live, “I don’t think these sentences will have a significant impact on the overall current security situation in Tunisia.” Carlino continued his comments, noting that despite the continued security operations being carried out throughout Tunisia, militant elements within the country remained intent on further attacks. Carlino also noted that, “Since only seven of the accused appeared in court and the remaining 69 are reportedly still at large, I would not exclude however some retaliatory attack by those militants as a way to send a message to the government.”
Prior to joining Tunisia Live, Simon worked as a freelance journalist. He has lived in Tunisia since 2013 and previously worked in Vietnam and Moscow.