Tunisians protest torture after man dies in police station

Tunisians protested against police brutality in al-Greisa city, northwest of the capital on Monday night. The protest followed the funeral of a man who police allegedly tortured to death, AFP reported.

Police used tear gas and fired warning shots in a bid to disperse the protesters. However, eyewitnesses told AFP the police required the assistance of the army to suppress rioting and restore peace.

Radia Nasrawi, president of the Tunisian Association against Torture (ATCT) condemned the death of Abdel Rauf El-Khomasy, claiming he was tortured by police, AFP reported.

“This tragedy shows that practicing torture continues in Tunisia even after the fall of the ousted president Ben Ali and his regime,” Nasrawi said. She also accused the moderate Islamist Ennahda led government of using the same methods as the ousted regime, including the systematic use of torture.

The Ministry of Interior said El-Khomasy, 40, died of a concussion. He was unconscious when he was taken to Charles Nicolle hospital and died shortly after. El-Khomasy was arrested on 28 August on a criminal charge, but the ministry didn’t divulge further details. According to Nasrawi, the police arrested El-Khomasy following a complaint by his neighbour accusing him of theft.

Lawyer Abd-el-Hak Triki told reuters that El-Khomasy was hit on the head by a sharp object during interrogation at the police station.

After the ouster of Ben-Ali’s regime in January, several cases of torture in prisons and police stations were reported, according to Human Rights organisations in Tunisia.

However, El-Khomasy’s is considered the first death from torture after the revolution, a tragedy that could embarrass the Ennahda government which promised to establish a mechanism to prevent torture and protect prisoners’ rights by the end of July.

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