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Environment and Response to Presence of Observers

On May 15, 1999 the trial opened in the Sixth Correctional Chamber of the Court of First Instance in Tunis. The presiding judge, Muhammad Faouzi Ben Amara, welcomed the foreign trial observers briefly in his office just before opening the hearing. Throughout the trial, foreign observers were required to leave their passports or other identification with the police upon entering the courtroom, and to collect them at the end of the hearing. Security officials refused to allow the president of the Paris Bar Council to enter the court as long as she was wearing her lawyer's robe. During the third session of the trial, the judge asked court security officers to inquire about the identity of certain persons taking notes in the courtroom (primarily the international observers).

Physically, the courtroom was noisy and uncomfortable for defendants, lawyers, and observers alike. The presiding judge sat behind an elevated table, with the two other members of the bench to his right and left. To the right of the judge as one faced the bench, at a detached desk, sat the prosecutor. To the left of the judge sat the court clerk, who wrote the minutes of the hearing as dictated to him by the judge. The defendants sat on backless benches in front of the judges' elevated bench, and behind the defendants, at the barre, stood and sat the defense attorneys. The barre physically separated the defense lawyers from their clients. The area between the attorneys and the judge's bench was filled with approximately a dozen uniformed security officers.

While the judge benefited from a microphone, there was no such provision made for the defense team, despite the fact that approximately ten meters separated them from the judge. The defendants, when called upon to speak, would walk to a stand located between their benches and the judges' bench. Audience members frequently had to strain to hear defendants and defense attorneys speak.

The interaction between the judge and the defense attorneys during the trial was tense. The judge frequently slapped his hand on the table and used his microphone to shout down defendants and lawyers, cutting them off after a few minutes and thereby preventing them from developing their defense as they saw fit. When some of the defendants sought to name their alleged torturers, the judge cut them off and then refused to enter those names into the summary of the proceedings. Frequent interventions by the judge, the defense attorneys' often frantic efforts to intervene on behalf of their clients during their examination, the lack of amplification of the defendants' voices, and the generally hostile and dismissive attitude of the presiding judge conspired to make the proceedings chaotic at times.

Hearing of May 15, 1999

In the first hearing, which opened late in the morning in a packed courtroom, the authorities failed to bring the three women defendants, Imen Derouiche, Afef Ben Rouina, and Hinda Aaroua, to court. The presiding judge read into the record the names of over one hundred lawyers signed on as co-counsel for the defense, refused the request by the defense lawyers for their Moroccan, French, and Algerian colleagues to be allowed to plead in the case, and announced that the trial would be postponed due to the absence of the three above-named defendants. He made no attempt to query the representative of the state as to the reason for the absence of the three women, all of whom had been in custody for one year or longer, or to ascertain whether they might still be brought to the hearing.

Lawyers for the defense applied for bail for all the detained defendants, pending resumption of proceedings, and for lifting the travel restrictions against Radhia Nasraoui. The prosecution sought the continued detention of thedefendants in custody and the maintenance of the restrictions on Nasraoui. The hearing was adjourned and one and-a-half hours later the defense was informed that their petitions had been refused and the hearing was postponed to June 19, 1999. The text of the judgment, issued on July 14,30 records these decisions as they were transmitted to the lawyers, with no discussion of the arguments or justification for the court's rejection of the defense's petitions. This meant that seventeen persons as yet not convicted of any offense spent a further month in prison due to the court's acquiescence before the failure, wilful or otherwise, of the authorities to bring to court three of the defendants who were in their custody.

Hearing of June 19, 1999

At the second hearing all the accused were present with the exception of Radhia Nasraoui, who the evening before had given birth to a daughter. The defense accordingly sought an adjournment. Interventions from certain of the accused, complaining that prison authorities were interfering with their preparation for university examinations, that they were being illegally held beyond the pretrial detention limits, and that their detention was on political grounds were cut short and were not recorded in the written judgment.

The defense lawyers made the same applications as in the first hearing, for the release on bail of all the detained defendants and for lifting the travel restrictions on Nasraoui, as well as for the intervention of the court with the prison authorities to enable the students among the detained to pursue their university study and examinations. Application was also made for medical examinations to be performed on Ali Jallouli, Lotfi Hammami, and Chedli Hammami, who said they still bore the traces of torture from their interrogation. The defense noted that previous written applications to this effect by Radhia Nasraoui had been refused by the prosecutor and the investigating judge. The defense counsel further requested that the court investigate the challenges to the veracity of the arrest dates as recorded in the statements attributed by the police to the defendants. The court sided with the prosecution in refusing all of these demands, and rescheduled the hearing for July 10.31

Hearing of July 10, 1999

The trial resumed at 11 a.m. on July 10 with the habitual roll call of the lawyers and the defendants. The session was to last through the night till dawn the next day, indicating the determination of the presiding judge to conclude the trial in this session no matter how long it would take.

The judge began his examination of the defendants, first the men and then the women. Throughout the judge's questioning, the defendants, almost without exception, alleged that the police subjected them to physical and psychological torture and ill-treatment while they were being interrogated in incommunicado detention.

The methods of torture described included tying the detainees' hands behind their back and hanging them from the ceiling by the wrists; tying the detainees' wrists together under their knees, passing a pole between the arms and the thighs and laying the pole on two tables (both are common methods of torture in Tunisia; the latter is known as the poulet rôti, chicken on the spit); sleep deprivation; beatings, including on sensitive parts of the body; sexual abuse and threats of rape; beating the detainees on the soles of the feet with sticks and then dousing them with cold water (known as falaqa); and hanging the detainee upside-down from the ceiling by the feet. Detainees said they had also been spat upon and insulted.

Najib Baccouchi stated in court that, while hanging upside down in this manner, his interrogators tied one end of a string around his sexual organs and tied the other end to the doorknob of the interrogation room, so that whenever a person came in or out of the room Baccouchi's entire body would be pulled by the string attached to his genitals.

Imen Derouiche stated in court that while under interrogation during incommunicado detention, she was injected with a blue liquid that caused her severe physical pain, and that one of her interrogators undressed in front of her and threatened to rape her in front of her fiancé (Noureddine Benticha, a fellow detainee). When she complained that she had arthritis and a heart condition, she was referred to a doctor, whose response, she testified, was to advise her captors how to torture her in light of her medical condition.

The detainees insisted that they had been forced to sign the police statements under duress without knowing their contents. They also requested that they receive medical examinations in order to document their torture and also to get treatment. Lotfi Hammami, for example, was at the time of his trial still complaining of genital dysfunction as a result of the torture. Some of the detainees, such as Ali Jallouli, asked that the state initiate proceedings against the persons who tortured them. The judge's response to Jallouli was that it was not the judge's role to do so. While it is not the role of a trial judge to file charges against presumed torturers-this is the responsibility of the prosecutor's office-the judge has a solemn obligation to try to establish whether a defendant has been tortured during interrogation, and thus, in accordance with Tunisian law and article 15 of the Convention against Torture, his or her statements are tainted and inadmissible as evidence.

Judge Ben Amara never questioned the prosecutor about these claims, and rejected once again all requests for medical examinations. The judge's behavior was all the more striking since, other than the written statements attributed to the detainees, no other evidence against them was presented to the court during the trial. Moreover, in its written judgment, the court justified the refusal to order medical examinations on the grounds that "a year and-a-half [had passed since] the detention and the court saw no visible signs or traces of external violence" on the defendants. This reasoning ignores the plight of defendants whose alleged injuries would be detectible only by a specialized examination. For example, Haikal Mannai alleged injury to a kidney and Lotfi Hammami to his genitals.

Frequently, the judge interrupted the detainees during their explanations, requiring them to summarize their arguments or to focus on the merits of the accusations made against them instead of describing their treatment since arrest. When Imen Derouiche attempted to state the name of the police officer who had threatened her with rape, the judge intervened and prevented her from doing so. Taha Sassi's insistence, over the judge's objections, on speaking about his experience of torture and demanding that his complaint be investigated earned his ejection from the courtroom.

The defendants' testimonies of torture were omitted from the court's fourteen-page-long summary of the proceedings, which forms part of its written judgment. The judgment employs the word torture only rarely, often rephrasing the defendants' complaints of torture as "extremely difficult circumstances of detention" and "use of violence," sometimes adding "on sensitive areas of the body."

The fact that the summary contains even limited references to torture is exceptional in Tunisia. In most trials where defendants allege torture, their allegations simply do not appear in the official summary of the proceedings. In this trial, the references to torture were due most likely to the presence in court of a large number of Tunisian lawyers and foreign observers, and to the lawyers' insistence that when the judge read the detainees' claims into therecord that "torture" be mentioned. With respect to the testimony by defendants Benticha, Derouiche, Sassi, and Lotfi Hammami, the lawyers were able to ensure that the word was recorded.32

Challenges to the Recorded Dates of Arrest

Virtually all the detainees challenged the date of arrest recorded in their police statements, stating that they had in fact been arrested on earlier dates. A number of them stated that there were witnesses to their arrest or other means of corroborating the real date.33 The court did not summon any of these witnesses or examine any of the exculpatory evidence that was proposed.  

Repudiation of the Contents of the Statements to Police

Each of the detainees repudiated completely the contents of the statements (procès verbaux) attributed to them by the police. Almost without exception, they said that they had been forced to sign them under the threat or use of torture, and that they had signed them without knowing the contents. Lotfi Hammami noted that the police statement for him and two other detainees contained the same "confessions" verbatim. Rachid Trabelsi stated that he was forced to sign his police statement while hanging upside down from his feet in an interrogation room. He noted that though his purported statement included information used to bring charges against Imen Derouiche, he had not known her before the commencement of the trial and had never met her until being brought before the court during the hearing of June 19, 1999. Lotfi Hammami and Ali Jallouli, whose testimonies were used to implicate Radhia Nasraoui in the trial, denied having made the comments about Nasraoui in their police statements.34

The Detention and Interrogation of Hamma Hammami's Relatives

Three members of the family of Hamma Hammami were defendants in this trial, in addition to his wife: his brother, Chedli Hammami, and two of Hamma's nephews, Lotfi Hammami and Rachid Trabelsi. All three said they had been tortured during their police interrogation. Rachid Trabelsi said most of the questions during interrogation concerned the whereabouts of his uncle, who had been in hiding since the beginning of the case. In recent years the Tunisian authorities have often resorted to arresting, imprisoning, and otherwise harassing the relatives of human rights activists, political opponents, and government critics.35 The court's judgment records the statement of Afef BenRouina in which she maintained that the purpose of her detention was to pressure her fiancé, student activist Taher Gargoura, to reveal the whereabouts of Hamma Hammami.

Denial of the Substance of the Charges

Many of the defendants challenged vigorously the substance of the charges made against them, some of them clarifying their relationships with the others in response to questions from their lawyers. Rachid Trabelsi, for example, denied any involvement in politics whatsoever, stating that his only contact with university student organizations occurred in 1992 when he sought the help of the General Union of Tunisian Students (UGET) in arranging for a scholarship. Imen Derouiche spoke proudly of her involvement with the UGET, but denied any activity with the PCOT or its youth organizations. Afef Ben Rouina denied any political activities. Others such as Haikal Mannai admitted to peaceful political activities, but declared that these were protected by the constitution. Ali Jallouli took a similar approach, noting that he had been imprisoned before on similar charges and, on those occasions, adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International and supported by other international rights organizations.36

When it was Radhia Nasraoui's turn to respond to the charges against her, she denounced them as part of a pattern of state harassment against her and her daughters-the pattern of which she described-prompted by her defense of human rights. She vehemently denied that she provided her office as a space for meetings of any illegal associations, stating that, as a law office, it was wholly dedicated to serving her clients' legal interests. She further questioned how there could have been a secret meeting at her office involving her husband Hamma Hammami when it was well known that the premises were under twenty-four-hour police surveillance.

Aside from the "confessions" of the defendants themselves to the police during incommunicado detention, no physical evidence was produced or examined during the trial, and no other witness called. For example, the "inciting" and "defamatory" leaflets, whose alleged distribution and possession most of the defendants were denying, were never produced by the prosecution in the open courtroom, in spite of defense requests. (The defense team had been able to view the tracts in the court chambers when the case was before the investigating judge but was not permitted to photocopy them so as to examine them closely together with their clients.)

At 4:30 p.m., after the end of Radhia Nasraoui's interrogation, the judge adjourned the hearing for a recess. The hearing resumed at 6:00 p.m. with a roll call of the defense attorneys present. Approximately twenty attorneys, among the more than one hundred who had signed on as defense co-counsels, argued on behalf of the accused. The lawyers made several arguments attacking the procedural irregularities, the constitutionality of the laws under which charges were brought, and the lack of evidence to support the state's arguments.

The defense arguments can be summarized as follows:37

1. Almost all of the detainees maintained that the police had falsified the dates of their arrest and subjected them to ill-treatment and torture to secure their signatures on statements whose contents they did not know.

2. Although these detainees had registered these allegations before the investigating judge and requested medical examinations to document the abuse, those examinations had been refused without explanation, even though Tunisian law gives detainees the right to request and receive medical examinations.

3. Testimonies and confessions obtained under torture were being improperly used as evidence against the defendants.

4. International human rights treaties ratified by Tunisia take precedence over domestic law, in accordance with the Tunisian constitution. The defense lawyers referred in particular to the Convention against Torture's definition of torture and its affirmations that states must investigate torture allegations and that statements made as a result of torture are inadmissible in court.

5. The arrest and interrogation of Benticha, Jallouli, Oueslati, and Sassi were illegal. Article 11 of the code of criminal procedure prohibits the arrest and interrogation of persons accused of offenses classified as crimes unless the state prosecutor general gives formal authorization for such actions (commission rogatoire), other than in cases of flagrante delicto (being caught in the very act of committing an offense). The defense argued that since the state was not alleging that these defendants had been arrested in flagrante delicto, and since their arrest and interrogation predated the prosecutor's authorization, their arrests were illegal and the statements attributed to them by the police were therefore inadmissible as evidence.

6. Procedural missteps rendered the police statements of Aaroua, Baccouchi, Derouiche, Gasmi, and Trabelsi inadmissible as evidence. Article 16 of the code of criminal procedure requires the police to hand over the suspect, the police statements, and any confiscated material to the state prosecutor general or the investigating judge as soon as either of these officials formally take up the case. The defense maintained that the police interrogated these suspects and issued procès verbaux in their regard after the investigating judge had taken up the case as of March 3, 1998, and that as a consequence these procès verbaux were therefore void and inadmissible as evidence.

7. The detention of the defendants before their trial was arbitrary. Tunisian law clearly intends pretrial detention to be an exceptional measure, justified only by special considerations. Nevertheless, the judges handling this case kept sixteen of the defendants in custody for eleven months or longer before deciding to charge them only with misdemeanors (délits)-for which the maximum period of pretrial detention under the law is nine months-and then still refused to release them until the conclusion of the trial.

8. Article 52bis of the penal code was inapplicable. The defense asserted that the PCOT, while an opposition party, was not a terrorist group or one that advocated violence or incited racial or religious hatred.

9. Evidence to support charges of defamation was lacking. The investigating judge and the prosecutor relied on articles appearing in the October 30, 1996 edition of al-Badil, the banned PCOT newspaper, to support the charges of defamation. These articles criticized the "submission of the national economy to imperialist states and institutions," attacked state policies based on "the oppression of the people," and bemoaned "unjust trials" in the country including the "fabrication of a drug case against a professor." The defense claimed that these were criticisms of policies and could not be seen as attacks against the individuals behind the policies or against the institutions in question.

10. Evidence to support charges of "spreading false information capable of disturbing public order" and "inciting the public to break the law" was lacking. The state failed to specify which information was false, how it was false, which laws the defendants were inciting the public to violate, or which public authorities had been defamed.

11. The Law Regulating Public Meetings was inapplicable. This law by its own terms applies to public meetings, and therefore was wrongly applied to private meetings alleged to have taken place in a private house or office.

12. The statements by Ali Jallouli, Najib Baccouchi, and Lotfi Hammami implicating Radhia Nasraoui were inadmissible. In the police statements attributed to these defendants, they allegedly stated that when they were in the office of Radhia Nasraoui (who was their attorney in other cases arising prior to the present one), she had arranged meetings between them and her husband, Hamma Hammami, and offered her office as a site for these meetings. The lawyers claimed that the contents of the defendants' discussions with Nasraoui were privileged attorney-client communications and therefore inadmissible as evidence.

On the basis of their arguments, the attorneys petitioned the court, prior to concluding the trial, to release the detainees, refer them to medical examinations, correct the recorded dates of their arrest, and remove the travel restrictions on Radhia Nasraoui.

The defense pleas lasted from 6 p.m. until about 4:45 a.m., with a break between 11:30 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. The extreme length of the hearing limited the right of the detainees to adequate representation, as many of the attorneys' pleadings were abbreviated or rendered less effective due to their physical exhaustion. Additionally, in Tunisia, there is a tradition that, when several attorneys argue on behalf of the same client, they argue in decreasing order of age. This meant that the older, better-known lawyers, many of whom represented their colleague Radhia Nasraoui only, argued during the evening while many of the younger lawyers who were defending the other detainees, did not get their turn until the early hours of the morning. The lesser-known defendants were especially hurt by the fact that the trial was conducted in a marathon overnight session.

The state prosecutor said little during the hearing. When prompted by the judge to respond to legal arguments or requests of the defense attorneys, he would respond simply by requesting that the court "apply the law," without further elaboration. He behaved as if he felt that the disputed confessions would be sufficient to persuade the judge to convict and that no other evidence need be presented to the court.

At 4:45 a.m. on July 11, as the first rays of sun entered the courtroom, the trial came to an abrupt end, during the arguments of Jameleddine Bida, one of the lawyers representing several of the accused. Bida pointed out to the court that an article in the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur that described Tunisia as a "police state" had been distributed in Tunis without the government lodging charges of defamation against it. (Labeling Tunisia a "police state" was one basis for charges against some of the defendants. For example, the written judgment states that Lotfi Hammami, in his disputed police statement, confessed to using this phrase as a slogan to stir up antigovernment activities on campus.) After Bida used the phrase to illustrate his point about selective enforcement of the law, the judge instructed the court clerk to record Bida's presentation as if the lawyer had himself characterized Tunisia as a police state, and prevented Bida from continuing his arguments. The defense team objected, and, after a heated exchange with the judge, withdrew en masse to protest the judge's actions toward their colleague.

The judge immediately ruled to refuse all the demands of the defense, including the release of detainees, referral to medical examinations, correction of the dates of arrest in the record, and removal of travel restrictions on Radhia Nasraoui. He announced the end of the trial and the reconvening of the court on July 14 to announce the verdict.

Verdict and Sentence

The court reconvened on the morning of July 14 and read its judgment. All of the defendants were found guilty-all except Nasraoui on multiple charges-and sentenced to prison terms. The defendants who had been in pretrial detention each received prison terms of between fifteen months and four years. The three sentenced in absentia each received nine years and three months in prison. Radhia Nasraoui was given a six-month suspended sentence. (See Appendix A for a chart of the sentences.) None of the defendants were found guilty under article 52bis of the penal code, and therefore were not subject to judicially mandated administrative control after their release. Both the prosecutor and the defense appealed the court's decision, and the appeal was scheduled for August 3.

The written judgment begins with a fourteen-page summary of the proceedings. The summary omits some of the key defense arguments, gives scant attention to the testimony to the court by the accused, and omits their graphic descriptions of torture. Coming to its own findings, the court summarized the case against the defendants as presented in the report of the investigating judge. Then, noting that the defendants stuck to their denials of culpability in court, the court held that the denials are refuted by "their explicit confessions, and their testimony implicating one another other which was supported by confiscated materials"-even though the printed materials were never introduced in court as evidence, in spite of defense requests that they be presented. The court then proceeded to consider the case presented by the defense. (This section of the judgment is translated in full in Appendix B.)

Rejecting the defense's arguments that the use of torture and procedural flaws rendered the police statements inadmissible, the court referred to article 154 of the code of criminal procedure, which provides that such statements are to be considered reliable unless evidence to the contrary is provided "in written form or in the form of witness testimony." The court dismissed the challenges made to the police statements by the accused, concluding that they could not be considered witnesses, but rather were looking to escape punishment and had moreover brought no successful challenge against the statements. It later repeated the same point in defense of its refusal to bring the arrest register into evidence, arguing that no proof of exceeding the limits of the duration of garde à vue detention had been offered except the unsupported statements of the accused themselves.

The court also found the claims of torture to be unreliable on the grounds that these claims related to events that had occurred a year and-a-half earlier, and the court had not seen any marks of violence or anything else to corroborate the claims. On the same grounds, the court considered it had acted correctly in refusing to order medical examinations.

The one argument on the merits that the court chose to address in its judgment was the challenge to charges based on the Law on Associations (Law 154 of 1959). It ruled that the defendants' activities were encompassed by the definition of association under the law, and that their purported statements to the police established that they had transgressed the law's prohibition of associational activities that "aim to violate the law or are of a nature to disturb the public order." Finally, the court addressed and dismissed the objections to its refusal to allow non-Tunisian lawyers to sign on as co-counsels for the defense.

The judgment did not deal with the remainder of the arguments raised by the defense, including the precedence of international human rights treaties over domestic legislation and the non-substantiation of charges related to defamation, spreading false information, and inciting the public to break the law.

By its cavalier dismissal of defense arguments regarding procedure, the court's judgment confirmed a series of violations of constituent elements of the right to a fair trial, as well as breaches of Tunisian law. Among the most serious was the court's refusal to investigate allegations of torture that had been made repeatedly by defendants before the prosecutor in the initial investigation, before the investigating judge, and before the court of first instance. Articles 12 and 13 of the Convention against Torture provide respectively that:

Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.

Each State Party shall ensure that any individual who alleges he has been subjected to torture in any territory under its jurisdiction has the right to complain to, and to have his case promptly and impartially examined by, its competent authorities.

As noted above, the code of criminal procedure in Article 13bis provides the right to request a medical examination while in, or upon leaving, pre-arraignment detention, a period of heightened vulnerability to torture and ill-treatment. But these demands were consistently refused, and subsequent demands were denied by the investigating judge and the trial court. The details of torture were set before the "competent authorities," all of whom took no action. Thus the defendants were denied recourse to the means of challenging the sole piece of evidence presented in court against them, the statements attributed to them by the police, which they rejected as having been obtained under duress.

The refusal to seek or consider evidence that could substantiate the accused's claims of torture was echoed in its treatment of the defense claim that the dates of arrest had been falsified: Even when provided with the names of witnesses who could testify as to the real dates of arrest of various of the accused, or when asked to summon the arrest registers for examination, the court refused (as had the investigating judge) and then dismissed objections to the veracity of the records as uncorroborated by any other testimony. Overall, the court seemed to accept the report of the investigating judge unquestioningly, rather than fulfill its obligation under the code of criminal procedure's Article 151, which states, "The [trial] judge is to base his or her decision only on the evidence introduced during the proceedings and discussed before him orally and in open debate among the parties."

In view of the above, the trial violated international standards for a fair trial, including the right under article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to be tried before a "competent, independent, and impartial tribunal." Among the court's gravest transgressions was to fail to uphold the principle in the Convention against Torture's article 15 that statements made as a result of torture are strictly inadmissible as evidence. The trial also violated Tunisia's obligations under the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, specifically Article 7(d), which affirms "the right to be tried within a reasonable time by an impartial court or tribunal." The year-long delay between the defendants' arrest and their trial-even though the investigation was apparently completed within a few weeks-violated the right to be tried "within a reasonable time," especially since the court kept them in detention until the conclusion of the trial.

30 Criminal Judgment in case no. 21018/099/6, dated July 14, 1999, Tunis Court of First Instance. The judgment is thirty-three pages in length.

31 The written judgment notes the requests for examining the three detainees and the police records of detention, but gives no reason for rejecting these requests at this juncture.

32 For example, in the summary of Hammami's court appearance on July 10, the written judgment notes, "Attorney [Mokhtar] Trifi intervened, asking the court to note [in the record] statements of his client regarding the torture he experienced, including that the investigator used violence on sensitive parts of his body."

33 The written judgment cites Qaïs Oueslati stating that there were witnesses to his arrest; Habib Hasni naming three students who witnessed his arrest; Chedli Hammami naming five witnesses to his arrest; and Imen Derouiche referring the court to the records of ar-Rabita Hospital to which she said she was taken during her incommunicado detention as a consequence of her ill-treatment by the police.

34 Lotfi Hammami stated that during his interrogation police officers displayed to him portions of a legal file pertaining to a traffic accident involving his father a few years earlier. The elder Hammami had in this matter hired Radhia Nasraoui to represent him. Lotfi stated in court that the particular elements of the file that the police showed him during his interrogation could have come only from the file kept on the case by Nasraoui, his father's lawyer. This file had been among those stolen from Nasraoui's law office when it was ransacked by persons unknown on the night of February 11-12, 1998, ten days before Lotfi Hammami's arrest. His testimony about this incident lent credence to the suspicion that the police were responsible for carrying out or ordering the break-in at Nasraoui's office. The written judgment includes, at the insistence of the defense, an oblique reference to this, stating that the accused used go to the office of Radhia Nasraoui in regard to a case involving an accident in which his father was a victim and that "the investigator showed that file to him when he was about to question him." (See Appendix B.)

35 Such practices have been used against the brother of former LTDH President Moncef Marzouki, Mohamed Ali Bedoui, who has served two six-month sentences since 1998 because he refused to submit to an extrajudicial requirement that he sign in daily with the police. In July 1999, Abderraouf Chammari, the brother of exiled human rights activist Khemaïs Chammari, received a twelve-month sentence for a remark he allegedly uttered in a private conversation that was deemed defamatory of high officials. He was released after serving two months. Scores of women have suffered harassment because of their marriages to Islamistopponents in jail or exile. See, for example, Amnesty International, Tunisia: A Widening Circle of Repression (London: Amnesty International, June 1997), AI Index MDE 30/25/97, and Comité pour le respect des libertés et des droits de l'Homme en Tunisie (CRLDH Tunisie), Familles ôtages et victimes (Paris: CRLDH Tunisie, March 1999).

36 See Amnesty International Urgent Action 208/96, AI Index MDE 30/24/96, August 27, 1996.

37 The arguments are also summarized in an eleven-page memorandum prepared by the defense, dated May 15, 1999 and addressed to the presiding judge. A French translation of the memorandum appears as an appendix to the report on the trial by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (see footnote above).

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