Tunisian judge postpones case against opposition leader

Rached Ghannouchi, the head of Islamist Ennahda party and former speaker of the parliament, during an interview with Reuters at his office in Tunis, Tunisia, July 15, 2022. /REUTERS

A Tunisian judge on Wednesday put off a terrorism hearing against the main opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi until November, and said he would not be held in pre-trial detention, his lawyer said.

Rached Ghannouchi, the head of Islamist Ennahda party and former speaker of the parliament, during an interview with Reuters at his office in Tunis, Tunisia, July 15, 2022. /REUTERS

Police had questioned Ghannouchi for more than 12 hours overnight over accusations that he had helped Tunisians travel to Syria for jihad during the Islamic State crisis last decade.

The 81-year old head of the Islamist Ennahda party, who was also speaker of the dissolved parliament, has denied all the charges and said they are politically motivated.

Another senior Ennahda figure, former Prime Minister Ali Laareyedh, will face a hearing later on Wednesday over the same accusations, which he also denies.

Ghannouchi was summoned to meet the terrorism police on Tuesday and questioned from 5:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday, his lawyer Samir Dilou said. He was also summoned on Monday and waited 12 hours before being told to go home.

Ennahda has accused police of using the investigation to intimidate them.

The police or other authorities have not publicly commented on the case.

Ghannouchi was also investigated earlier this summer regarding accusations of money-laundering, which he denied.