Tunisian police killed man in first death of protests, opposition says


TUNIS – A Tunisian man died in hospital on Wednesday from injuries inflicted by police, activists and the main opposition Ennahda party said, in what would be the first death related to protests against President Kais Saied’s assumption of extra powers.

A Tunis court investigating the death said the man, found in a coma on Mohamed V Street in the capital, was taken to hospital on Friday and died on Wednesday. A court statement made no mention of whether the man was one of the demonstrators.

The court said the man’s body bore no visible signs of violence and would be handed to forensic examiners to determine the cause of death. An investigation had been opened, it added.

There was no immediate comment from the interior ministry.

The Ennahda Islamist party said in a statement, however, that Ridha Bouziane, who is one of its members, was subjected to severe violence, which resulted in severe bleeding in his brain.

Police deployed water cannons and batons against protesters on Friday, as Saied faced growing discontent over his suspension of parliament last July and subsequent rule by decree.

“Ridha Bouziane, who took part in the January 14 protest died in a hospital in the capital after suffering serious injuries as a result of the excessive violence by police in the demonstration,” the Citizens Against the Coup coalition said.

Ennahda said it holds President Saied and his interior minister fully responsible for Bouziane’s death, and said it will prosecute those involved in this crime.

Samir Ben Amor, a lawyer for arrested protesters, also said Bouziane died due to police violence, though no more specifics were given.

Saied has said he will uphold all freedoms during a transitional period to a new constitution later this year.

Friday’s protest defied a COVID-19 ban on gatherings.


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