a former Tunisian presidential candidate placed in pre-trial detention

A former presidential candidate in Tunisia, Nabil Karoui, and his brother MP, arrested at the end of August in Algeria, were imprisoned for “illegal entry” into this country, local media reported on Sunday.

The leader of the Qalb Tounès party and his brother Ghazi were placed in pretrial detention on Saturday after being heard by an investigating judge of the court of Constantine (north-east), according to the newspaper Ennahar which quotes “judicial sources”.

The two men are notably prosecuted for “illegal entry” into Algerian territory, according to Ennahar.

The Constantine prosecutor’s office was unreachable on Sunday.

Mr. Karoui and his brother were arrested at the end of August by the Algerian border police, in the region of Tebessa, in northeastern Algeria. Tunisian justice had launched on August 31 a “notice of search” against the two men.

Founder of the private Tunisian channel Nessma TV, which is partly owned by Silvio Berlusconi, former head of the Italian government, Mr. Karoui has been prosecuted since 2017 in a case of money laundering and tax evasion.

Arrested in 2019, he had spent more than a month in prison during the electoral campaign, which had raised fears of an instrumentalisation of justice.

Released, he was again arrested last December and released in June, after six months in pre-trial detention.

Mr. Karoui, whose presidential program focused on anti-Islamism and the fight against poverty, had been largely defeated by Kaïs Saïed, an academic neophyte in politics, against a background of rejection of the elites in power since the revolution of 2011.

At the end of July, Mr. Saied, invoked the Constitution to grant himself full powers, dismiss the head of government and suspend Parliament.

Since this coup, arrests, travel bans and house arrest have targeted magistrates, deputies and businessmen, as part of an anti-corruption “purge” promised by Mr. Saied.

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