A Sousse court has dismissed the cases of four men accused of lynching a Tunisian political figure in 2012.
The court’s verdict on Monday night rekindled tensions over the brutal 2012 skirmish between rival political groups that left the Tataouine regional coordinator for Nidaa Tounes, Lotfi Nagdh, dead.
While the court dismissed the cases of those facing murder charges, others were convicted of assault and possession of illicit weapons in connection with incident.
Nagdh’s death has been the center of political dispute for years. While witnesses claim that he was beaten and ultimately lynched by members of The League to Protect the Revolution–a controversial and religiously orientated group active in the years following the Revolution– supporters of the Ennahda dominated government of the time claim that accounts of his violent death were politically motivated and were used as anti-Islamist propaganda.
According to 2012 accounts from the Ministry of the Interior, Nagdh died of a heart attack. However, many, including the family of Nagdh and members of Nidaa Tounes, have disputed this, blaming violent protesters for the man’s death after a political march escalated into violent clashes outside the headquarters of Regional Union of Agriculture and Fisheries in Tattaouine.
According to contemporary accounts, protesters scaled the walls of the Union offices and pulled Nagdh and others from the building where they were beaten.
Tuesday’s ruling, which effectively freed four of Nagdh’s alleged assailants, was met with public outrage. Large groups of protesters gathered in front of the court, angrily denouncing the verdict and chanting anti-Islamist verdicts.
Officials for Nidaa Tounes also expressed frustration with the ruling.
“If there was any justice, they wouldn’t be released,” said a representative of Nidaa Tounes in Tataouine, who claimed that members of the league directly targeted Nagdh for his vocal stance against Ennahda, Tunisia’s major Islamist party that has been linked to the leagues.
Others connected Nagdh’s death to other controversial political assassinations.
“Lotfi died and no one was to blame, Chokri Belaid died and no one was to blame, so did Mohamed Brahmi, and Tunisia is f—-d.”
Former head of the League for the Protection of the Revolution Imed Dghij, defended the ruling in favor of the accused.
“The judgement was expected,” Dghij said to Tunisia Live. “The only concern we had was whether the judges would be influenced by members of Nidaa Tounes.”
Contrary to many media reports, Dghij said that Nidaa Tounes provoked the 2012 clash and that there was no evidence to suggest Nagdh had sustained any injuries prior to his death. He also claimed that a popular image circulating on social media purporting to be the body of Nagdh is fake.
The death of Lotfi Nagdh was a watershed moment in the development of Nidaa Tounes, one of the first openly secular parties in Tunisia.
A video published by Kapitalis purports to document the incident. [Explicit content]
Rahma is preparing a master thesis in Anglo-American studies. She is interested in politics and foreign affairs. Since the outbreak of the Tunisian revolution, she volunteered for several Tunisian associations such as ATIDE, Sawty and others. She writes articles about post-revolution Tunisia.