Bouazizi's protest and eventual death touched off the uprisings in the Middle East [Al Jazeera]

A court in Tunisia has dropped charges against a policewoman who is alleged to have slapped Mohamed Bouazizi, the fruit vendor whose protest at his treatment presaged the uprisings that swept the Arab world.

Tunisia's state news agency, TAP, reported on Tuesday that charges against Sedia Hamdi had been dropped after the vendor's family withdrew its original complaint.

The family said it acted in a gesture of tolerance and an effort to heal wounds suffered in Tunisia's upheaval of recent months.

Hamdi was accused of slapping Bouazizi during an altercation in the provincial town of Sidi Bouzid in December last year.

Bouazizi's wares were confiscated on the grounds that he needed a permit.

In protest, Bouazizi, who had been the victim of frequent official mistreatment, set himself on fire.

He later died of his wounds, but not before the incident had prompted street demonstrations in Sidi Bouzid against government repression and corruption.

The protests spread across Tunisia, and a month later forced Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's longtime president, to flee the country.

Pro-democracy protests have since erupted in several Arab countries.

The Tunisian court's decision comes as the country struggles to build a new democracy in the wake of Ben Ali's ousting.

Source: Agencies