ROME: Italy is to take back hundreds of containers of mislabeled household and hospital waste that was sent to Tunisia last year and is being stored at the port of Sousse.
An agreement was reached following a meeting between Vincenzo De Luca, governor of the region of Campania, and Tunisia’s Ambassador to Italy Moez Sinaoui.
Campania will be in charge of the transfer of the containers, in a case that has caused public rage in Tunisia.
Between May and July last year, 282 containers holding 7,900 tons of undifferentiated waste were illegally exported from Italy to Tunisia.
Investigations are underway by the Tunisian and Italian judiciaries to ascertain responsibility for the falsification of the documents issued for the cross-border authorizations.
Last month, Tunisian Environment Minister Mustapha Laroui was arrested in connection with the scandal.
Senior officials at the Environment Ministry, Tunisian customs and the Waste Management Agency were also arrested.
Tunisia company Soreplast, which imported the containers, said they held scrap plastic that it would recycle.
But the containers were discovered to be holding tons of household and hospital refuse, the import of which is banned by Tunisia, raising speculation that they formed part of an illicit trade in waste products.
Sinaoui thanked De Luca “for his collaboration and for the willingness shown in closing the dossier definitively in the shortest possible time, in the spirit of friendship and of cooperation between the respective countries.”
De Luca affirmed his region’s commitment to return the waste, telling Arab News: “This is perfectly in line with the great relationship between Tunisia and Italy, and Campania in particular.”
The return of the containers was one of the issues discussed on Dec. 28 in Tunis during a meeting between Tunisian President Kais Saied and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio.