[QODLink]
Archive
Tunisia pardons political detainees
Tunisian President Zain al-Abidin bin Ali has pardoned at least 80 short-term Islamist prisoners during Ramadan, including two leaders of the banned Nahda party.
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2004 14:48 GMT
Bin Ali's pardon is described as a humanitarian gesture
Tunisian President Zain al-Abidin bin Ali has pardoned at least 80 short-term Islamist prisoners during Ramadan, including two leaders of the banned Nahda party.

This is according to political sources and relatives of prisoners.

"We counted until now the release of at least 80 prisoners who had joined their families late on Tuesday. Among the pardoned detainees are Ali Laarid, former Nahda spokesman, and Ziad Dawlatli, a top Nahda official," one political source said on Wednesday.

Most of those pardoned would have spent between just a few months and less than two years in jail, one source said.

Political sources described the pardon as a humanitarian gesture made in the Muslim month of Ramadan.

"The pardon would bear a political significance if it had included those jailed for 30 years like Sadiq Shourou, the former Nahda chairman, but it did not," said a political source, who like other sources, declined to be identified because of the sensitivity surrounding Islamist detainees.

Sweeping win

Tunisian authorities brand the banned Islamist Nahda group as a "terrorist organisation", which they say had been wiped out early in the 1990s. Its leader Rashid al-Gannuchi lives in exile in the UK.

The government, which denies Tunisia has political detainees, has said only that bin Ali had pardoned "some prisoners" before the 17th anniversary of his 7 November takeover.

The move came 10 days after bin Ali's sweeping re-election win to extend his rule by another five-year term.

Some Western diplomats say the 94.4% popular vote bin Ali won in the 24 October election, less than the over 99% registered in the previous polls, might herald more tolerance of dissent, especially since he had promised greater democracy.
 
Human-rights activists in Tunisia and abroad say the first test for the re-elected president would be whether he grants amnesty to the 500 or so political detainees in the country's jails.

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.