A Tunisian court sentenced 11 men to prison on charges of funding an unnamed terrorist cell and recruiting new members, a defence lawyer said.
Tunisia’s secular-leaning government is seen as a staunch ally of the West in combating Islamist militancy and lawyers say around 2000 people have been arrested since 2003 on terrorism charges.
“Judge Mehrez Hemmami sentenced 11 men to jail terms ranging from four to 12 years as they were accused of having ties with a terrorist group , recruiting persons and providing it with money,” the lawyer, Samir Ben Amor, told Reuters.
The Court of First Instance in Tunis gave two of the men prison terms of 12 years, another five years and the rest four years. All were arrested in 2009.
One man was convicted in absentia. “Bilel Beldi, who was one of those sentenced to 12 years, fled to France and demanded political asylum,” said Ben Amor.
He said state prosecutors did not say which organisation the men were alleged to belong to and government officials were not immediately available to comment.