Wed. Oct 27th, 2021

The announcement comes a day after Nabil Karoui and his brother were arrested in Algeria.

According to authorities, Tunisia issued an arrest warrant for former presidential candidate Nabil Karoui and his brother, a day after reports that they were being held in neighboring Algeria.

Karoui was runner-up in the 2019 presidential election in Tunisia, a poll won by Kais Saied, which will be held in July this year parliament suspended and conferred on itself decisive presidential powers.

Local media reported on Monday that the party leader of Qalb Tounes and his brother, MP Ghazi Karoui, had been arrested in Algeria.

Riadh al-Nouioui, spokesperson for the Kasserine court in Central Tunisia, told the AFP news agency on Tuesday that an arrest warrant had been issued against Nabil and Ghazi Karoui for the illegal crossing of the border.

A person suspected of helping the couple leave the country was arrested the previous day, he added without further explanation.

Algeria and Tunisia are bound by an agreement stipulating the extradition by one of the countries “of any person prosecuted or convicted” in the other.

Any extradition request must be “accompanied by an official document from the authorities”.

Nabil Karoui founded the private Tunisian channel Nessma TV, which is partly owned by the former Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi.

Accusations about activist

Human rights groups accused Tunisia on Monday of handing over political activist Slimane Bouhafs of Algeria, who was sentenced to prison in 2016 for “insulting Islam”.

It is speculated in Tunisian media and social networks that the arrest of the Karoui brothers was in exchange for the handover of Bouhafs.

Karoui has been under investigation since 2017 in a case of money laundering and tax evasion.

He was arrested in 2019 and spent more than a month in jail at the height of the presidential election campaign.

He was released but was re-arrested in December last year and spent six months in custody before the trial before being released again in June.

Karoui comes second in the 2019 election with Saied, a retired professor of law and political newcomer, as voters have rejected the political class that has ruled since the 2011 revolution.

On July 25, Saied parliament fired, dismissed the Prime Minister and gave himself far-reaching powers, invoking the constitution as justification.

Since then, there has been a wave of travel bans and house arrests targeting parliamentarians, magistrates and businessmen in a fight against corruption that has raised fears of a decline in freedoms.

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