Almost 700 arrested during Tunisian uprising, Minister says

Reuters/Zohra Bensemra

Tunisian Minister of Justice, Lazhar Karoui Chebbi, announced Wednesday that 698 people had been arrested for involvement in the unrest that preceded and followed the fall of the former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on 14 January.


These individuals are suspected of "sabotage, violence and and looting," the minister said at a news conference.

Chebbi indicated that his department was examining the possibility of the release of common-law prisoners over 60 years or between 18-20 who had committed non-serious crimes.

Seventy-four prisoners died in Tunisia during the month of popular uprising that toppled President Ben Ali, Chebbi said.

"Among them, 48 died in the fire at the prison in Monastir,"160 kilometres south of Tunis,” said the minister.

On Wednesday the Tunisian government eased the timing of a curfew which will now operate between 2200-0400 because of “improved security” conditions.

However thousands of activists who were protesting in Tunisia’s second largest City Sfax, to call for a clean break with the old regime, were tear-gassed by police.


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