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Tunisian rapper jailed over police insult

Weld El 15, who has been in trouble for his song The Police Are Dogs, was sentenced in absentia in August to 21 months.

Last updated: 06 Dec 2013 00:34
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Tunisian rappers Klay BBJ, right, and Weld el 15, left, were sentenced for insulting police in their songs [AFP]

A Tunisian rapper who went on the run after receiving a 21-month jail sentence in absentia in August for songs deemed insulting to police was jailed for four months at a retrial.

Weld El 15, whose real name is Alaa Yacoubi, had surrendered to the authorities at the courthouse for the hearing.

The court found him guilty of affront to public decency and insulting behaviour towards public servants in his songs on Thursday, and ordered him taken straight to the cells to serve his sentence.

"I am going to lodge an immediate appeal," defence lawyer Ghazi Mrabet said. "I am concerned Weld El 15 may suffer bodily harm in prison."

I'm ready for anything, I hope that Tunisia has a justice system and not an injustice system.

Alaa Yacoubi, aka Weld El 15 , Tunisian rapper

The hearing took place at a court in the town of Hammamet, east of Tunis, where Weld El 15 and fellow rapper Ahmed Ben Ahmed were originally convicted without even being notified of the trial.

Ahmed, known as Klay BBJ has since been retried twice and was finally acquitted in October, while Weld El 15 had been on the run until Thursday.

"I'm ready for anything, I hope that Tunisia has a justice system and not an injustice system," the rapper told the French News Agency AFP.

"The revolution took place in the name of freedom of expression," he said, referring to the popular uprising that ousted veteran strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.

"I handed myself in because I can't spend my life on the run, but I'm not ready to go back to prison."

Weld El 15 and Klay BBJ were tried for songs they performed together at a concert in Hammamet.

Trials of musicians and journalists have multiplied,s ince an Islamist-led government took power after Tunisia's 2011 revolution, sparking charges from human rights groups that the authorities are stifling freedom of expression.

Attempts to reform the Tunisian judiciary and the security forces since the Ben Ali regime fell have largely stalled.

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AFP
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