RTR, le 7 juillet 2001 à 18h41

Tunisian court delays verdict on rights activist

TUNIS, July 7 (Reuters) - Tunisia's Appeals Court postponed its verdict on Saturday on a one-year jail sentence imposed on leading human rights activist Moncef Marzouki until September 29, court officials and lawyers said.
"The court decided to suspend the verdict until September 29 on a technicality. It found that the paper on the initial verdict was left out of the file," Abderrahmane Kraiem, one of Marzouki's lawyers, said.
A Tunis criminal court sentenced Marzouki to one year in jail last December for maintaining an outlawed organisation and for "spreading false information".
Marzouki, 55, was a spokesman for the outlawed National Council for Liberty in Tunisia when he was sentenced. He will remain free until the appeals court issues its verdict.
He declined to appeal against the sentence, arguing that the judiciary was under government control, but the! state prosecutor appealed in a bid to increase the jail term.
Marzouki was accused of spreading false information by telling a human rights meeting in Morocco last year that cash from a Tunisian state-run fund against poverty was being spent without independent checks.
Marzouki pleaded not guilty, arguing that the government had to address his critics through the media instead of dragging him before a court.
Journalist Sihem Ben Sedrine replaced Marzouki as spokeswoman of the Council early this year.
She was arrested and jailed on June 26 after returning from Europe, where she had spoken publicly about the government human rights record.
Ben Sedrine, editor of the online magazine Kalima (Word), appeared before an examining judge for questioning on Thursday.
The judge ordered her to remain in custody pending further interrogation and trial! .
France has expressed concern over Ben Sedrine's fate and urged the Tunisian government to release her. Amnesty International and Reporters Without Frontiers, a Paris-based press freedom advocacy group, also called for her release.



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