A well-known political figure in Tunisia and the Arab world, Dr Chourou was solicited by numerous media after his release. He granted several interviews by phone, including one to the Arab television channel Al Hiwar on 1 December 2008 during which he broached upon the question of civil and political freedoms in his country as well as the conditions of his detention.
He also affirmed, during this same interview, his intention of never giving up his civil and political rights and his request to the authorities for the legalization of his political movement on behalf of the freedom of association.
It is for this reason that he was again arrested on Wednesday 3 December 2008 at 4.30pm. His home was surrounded by around ten agents of the Ministry of Interior's services who took him by force to an unknown destination without presenting either an arrest warrant, or the reason for his arrest.
Taken to the headquarters of the Ministry of the Interior's services, he was forced to remain seated on a stool in a small, cramped cell, deprived of the most basic needs.
Heard by the Security Services in the framework of the preliminary inquiry, he was interrogated about his interviews and the declarations he made to the media.
He was presented before the Tunis Court of First Instance on 5 December 2008 at the end of his police custody (garde à vue), accused of having taken his political activities again, and of having spoken in the name of a banned movement. He was charged in virtue of article 30 of the Code of Associations which represses "the participation, the setup and the restructuring of non-authorized organizations".
The hearing was postponed to 13 December 2008. Dr Sadok Chourou made a preliminary declaration before the tribunal to affirm that he was not giving up his right to freely express his opinions, and to denounce the illegal conditions of his arrest and policy custody.
He also recalled in his intervention "that his declaration contained in the minutes (procès verbale) was falsified, that he had in fact had the honor of presiding the Al Nahda movement from 1988 to 1991, that this movement henceforth had his direction and its institutions, and that it was not appropriate for him, as a detainee freed only a few weeks ago, to have any other ambition than to inform on events, to try to understand and analyze them and to express his opinions when he could."
Dr Chourou also "expressed his astonishment at being subjected to accusations of continuing a non-authorized organization because of the impossibility of a single individual, in addition to being isolated, to be able to undertake such action that requires the displacement of militants, meetings congresses and elections being held, as well as the establishment of an executive office, the election of its members etc." He also questioned whether "an individual isolated as he was, surrounded in his home since his release from prison on 5 November 2008, to which even access was prevented to his guests due to the closing (by the police) of the public road, how could such an individual even think of such a project'.
The defense pleaded during the hearing of the unrealistic nature of the accusations, as well as the ‘political character' of the procedure by demonstrating that Dr Chourou had only expressed his opinions.
Dr Sadok Chourou was nevertheless condemned to a sentence of a year's imprisonment by a judgment handed down the very same day.
This arrest as well as the condemnation violate at the same time Tunisian domestic law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Tunisia on 18 March 1969.
|< Prev||Next >|