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Tunisia sentences refugee for terrorism

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14:34 CEST+02:00
A Tunisian court sentenced a Swedish refugee and seven other Tunisians to up to 12 years in jail on charges of belonging to a militant group and inciting terrorism, a lawyer reported on Saturday.

Sami Bouras, a refugee in Sweden, and seven others had denied the charges and said their confessions were obtained under torture, lawyer Samir Ben Amor, who is also secretary general of the Association for the Defence of Political Prisoners, told AFP on Saturday.

Three of those convicted on Saturday were sentenced to 12 years in jail and included Bouras and Bilel Beldi, who is a refugee in France. Both were tried in absentia, said Ben Amor. Another was sentenced to two years and the remainder to five years.

They were convicted of belonging to a terrorist group that was not identified and for "incitement to commit terrorist acts", Ben Amor said.

Beldi, 31, and Bouras, 35, were jailed in 2003 on similar charges and released on parole in 2006, when they left Tunisia to seek asylum in Europe. Human rights lawyers say more than 2,000 Tunisians have been jailed or put on trial for "terrorism" in recent years.

United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Martin Scheinin said in Tunis in January that there were contradictions in the country's anti-terrorism law and in most cases, mere intentions were punished.

Tunisia has been criticised for a decline in political freedoms, with the US condemning the jailing of television journalist Fahem Boukadous on Friday for reporting information deemed threatening to public order.

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