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Tunisia: Further information on fear of torture / legal concern and new concern: fear of imprisonment as a prisoner of conscience: Tahir Zouinekh

, N° d'index: MDE 30/008/1995

Tahir Zouinekh was finally brought before a court on 15 March 1995, 79 days after his arrest. There are grounds for fearing that he may have been tortured during this excessively long period of incommunicado detention. Furthermore, AI fears that when the verdict on his case is announced (expected 30 March 1995), he may face imprisonment as a prisoner of conscience. Not all the charges against him are known but they include membership of an unauthorized organization (believed to be the Islamist movement al-Nahda).

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: MDE 30/08/95
Distr: UA/SC
24 March 1995
Further information on UA 40/95 (MDE 30/04/95, 17 February 1995) - Fear of
torture / Legal concern and new concern: Fear of imprisonment as prisoner of
conscience
TUNISIA Tahir ZOUINEKH
Tahir Zouinekh was finally brought before a court on 15 March 1995, 79 days
after his arrest on 27 December 1994. There are grounds for fearing that he
may have been tortured during this excessively long period of garde à vue
(incommunicado) detention. Furthermore, Amnesty International fears that when
the verdict on his case is announced (it is expected on 30 March), Tahir Zouinekh
may face imprisonment as a prisoner of conscience. Not all the charges against
him are known, but they include membership of an unauthorized organization
(not explicitly mentioned but believed to be the unauthorized Islamist movement
al-Nahda).
Despite repeated enquiries with the Tunisian authorities by his family and
Amnesty International, including appeals from the Urgent Action Network, Tahir
Zouinekh's whereabouts and legal status remained unknown until his court
appearance in Gabès on 15 March. His wife saw him for the first time on this
occasion only by chance: a recourse left to relatives of detainees held
incommunicado is to attend the opening of court sessions in the hope that one
of the defendants will turn out to be their loved one, as happened in this
case.
Tahir Zouinekh's wife was first able to speak to him on 22 March, under the
strict supervision of police officials. He stated that he had been in hospital
for 13 days because of stomach and back problems and appeared to be in a poor
condition. As he had reportedly been in good health at the time of his arrest,
there are fears that he may have been ill-treated and tortured during his
prolonged garde à vue detention.
Amnesty International is particularly concerned by Tahir Zouinekh's excessive
period of garde à vue detention, as it is by far the longest in Tunisia in
the last two years known to the organization. Incommunicado detention leaves
detainees vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment and is distressing for family
members.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and
airmail letters either in French/Arabic/English or in your own language:
- deploring the fact that Tahir Zouinekh was held in garde à vue detention
for nearly three months, a period far exceeding the maximum limit of 10 days
permitted under Tunisian law and in serious contravention of international
standards;
- expressing serious concern that he may have been tortured or ill-treated
during this time, and calling for a prompt investigation into his unlawfully
prolonged garde à vue detention and into his treatment during it, and urging
that he have continuing access to medical care;
- expressing concern that he may be tried and sentenced as a prisoner of
conscience.
APPEALS TO:
2
1) Minister of Justice
M. Sadok Chaâbane
Ministre de la Justice
Ministère de la Justice
Boulevard Bab Benat
Tunis, Tunisie
Faxes: +216 1 568 106
Telexes: 13000 maet tn (via Ministère de l'Intérieur)
Telegrams: Ministre de la Justice Chaâbane, Tunis, Tunisie
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Your Excellency
2) Minister of the Interior
M. Mohamed Jegham
Ministre de l'Intérieur
Ministère de l'Intérieur
Av Habib Bourguiba
Tunis
Tunisie
Faxes: +216 1 340 888
Telexes: 13662 sdap tn
Telegrams: Ministre de l'Interieur, Tunis, Tunisie
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Your Excellency
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
M. Salem Makki
Conseiller Présidentiel chargé des droits de l'homme
Palais Présidentiel
Carthage/Tunis
Tunisia
Faxes: +216 1 731 009 or +216 1 742 513
Me Taoufik Bouderbala, Président
Ligue Tunisienne des Droits de l'Homme, LTDH
21 Rue Imam el Bakri
1002 TUNIS Belvedere
Tunisia
Fax: +216 1 801 599
and to diplomatic representatives of TUNISIA accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 10 May 1995.

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