Court frees Tunisian presidential candidate Nabil Karoui

Nabil Karoui is one of two candidates in the final round of the election (AFP/File photo)
Updated 10 October 2019

Court frees Tunisian presidential candidate Nabil Karoui

  • Media mogul receives a hero’s welcome as he walks free from jail Wednesday night
  • Karoui is running against conservative law professor Kais Saied on Sunday in the second round of voting

TUNIS: Tunisia’s jailed presidential candidate Nabil Karoui received a hero’s welcome as he walked free from jail Wednesday night, just days ahead of a runoff vote that he will contest against a rival political newcomer.
An AFP journalist outside Mornaguia prison near Tunis saw throngs of the media mogul’s supporters waving Tunisia’s red-and-white flag and Karoui campaign banners as they jubilantly cheered for him.
An elated Karoui then left the scene in a black Mercedes, and drove off without speaking to the press.
The release, which came hours ahead of final results from parliamentary polls, is the latest twist in a shock election dominated by political outsiders in the country whose 2011 revolution sparked the Arab Spring regional uprisings.
The Court of Cassation’s decision to release Karoui, a business tycoon who has been detained since August over a money laundering probe, also comes ahead of Sunday’s final presidential vote.
The results from last week’s parliamentary poll are expected to reap a legislature riven by divisions, with Islamist-inspired Ennahda likely to win the largest number of seats, but still falling far short of a majority.
Karoui’s lawyer Kamel Ben Messoud earlier said the court had “annulled the detention order” against his client.
Another of his lawyers, Nazih Souei, said Karoui remains under investigation, “but he is free.”

Karoui is running against conservative law professor Kais Saied on Sunday in the second round of voting.
Saied had announced last weekend he was quitting campaigning in order to avoid an unfair advantage over Karoui.
The sidelining of Tunisia’s post-Arab Spring political class in the September 15 presidential first round was rooted in frustration over a stagnant economy, high unemployment, failing public services and rising prices.
While it has succeeded in curbing jihadist attacks that rocked the key tourist sector in 2015, Tunisia’s economy remains hampered by austere International Monetary Fund-backed reforms.
With the electorate tired of political manoeuvring and the failure to improve living conditions since the ouster of late longtime autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, political newcomers Karoui and Saeid have taken the lead.

Previous requests to release Karoui had been turned down and he has branded his arrest as “political.”
Despite being behind bars, he won 15.6 percent of votes in the first round of the presidential poll.
The party he founded six months ago, Qalb Tounes (Heart of Tunisia) appears set to come second behind Ennahda in the parliamentary poll.
To date, Karoui had been forced to campaign by proxy — through his wife and the Nessma TV channel he founded.
And while his release comes as a surprise, it remains uncertain what impact it will have on his bid for the presidency.


Turkey probes dozens over quake social media posts

Updated 27 January 2020

Turkey probes dozens over quake social media posts

  • Suspects accused of sharing fake images about the quake on social media
  • Death toll from Friday’s quake had reached 39 people as hopes dimmed of finding more survivors

ISTANBUL: Turkish prosecutors are investigating dozens of people for “provocative” social media messages about the deadly earthquake in eastern Turkey, reports said Monday.
The death toll from Friday’s quake in Elazig province had reached 39 people as hopes dimmed of finding more survivors amid the rubble.
The Ankara prosecutor’s office is checking 50 individuals on suspicion of “spreading fear and panic” and “insulting the Turkish people, the Turkish republic and the state institutions,” the Hurriyet daily said.
The suspects are accused of sharing fake images about the quake on social media.
Turkish authorities were winding up their rescue efforts on Monday.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters that 24,000 tents had been provided, 1,000 container shelters were being built, and funds released to repair damaged buildings.
Thirty-five of the victims died in Elazig and four in the neighboring province of Malatya, officials said.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 86 injured were still being treated in hospitals — 18 of them in intensive care units.