Tunisia’s parliament speaker was dissolved and the president’s arch-rival Kais Saied was released on Thursday night, his lawyer said, after being tried in a case of money laundering and “incitement to violence.”
Rached Ghannouchi, who also heads the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party that dominated Tunisian politics for a decade until Saied seized power in mid-2021, was previously questioned about the case in July.
Other members of Ennahdha are also facing prosecution for suspicious transactions involving Instalingo, a digital content production company.
The company has been under investigation since last year for allegedly “conspiring against state security” and inciting violence.
After a 14-hour hearing, the investigating judge released Ghannouchi, his lawyer Sami Triki said, adding that a date for the next hearing has not yet been set.
Earlier in the day, the 81-year-old arrived at court in the coastal city of Sousse, where he told reporters the case was an “empty file” and an “invented problem”.
“This is fabricated and is aimed at distracting the Tunisian people from the real problems we are facing,” he said.
Ghannouchi has harshly criticized Saied’s July 2021 takeover, during which the president sacked the Ennahdha-supported government and seized full executive authority.
Saied also dissolved parliament and pushed through a constitution that gave his own office almost unlimited powers.
Ghannouchi and other Ennahdha officials are also on trial in a separate case, known as the “sending of jihadis” to conflict zones, which has been at the center of political debate for years and has recently resurfaced.
Ennahdha denies all charges against its members.
In July, the judges froze the Tunisian bank accounts of Ghannouchi and those of several relatives and members of his party.
That came after a court issued a travel ban against him in May as part of an investigation into the 2013 murders of two prominent leftist figures.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.