Tunisia sentences 76 over soldier killings

AFP , Wednesday 12 Oct 2016

A Tunisian court Wednesday handed jail and death sentences to 76 people for killing eight soldiers in a jihadist hideout near the Algerian border in 2013, the prosecution said.

Only seven accused, all Tunisian, appeared in court during the trial that started in late 2014 over the killings in the mountainous area of Chaambi, prosecution spokesman Sofiene Sliti said.

Four received seven years in jail, one was handed a 13-year term and another was condemned to death, while the seventh was cleared of all charges.

The remaining 69 accused, all on the run and mostly Algerian, were given sentences ranging from 40 years to the death penalty, Sliti said, but did not give a total number of death sentences.

They were found guilty of charges including "terrorist crimes", he said.

Tunisia has faced a rise in jihadist attacks since the 2011 uprising that led to the overthrow of longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The army has been tracking jihadists in the Chaambi area since 2012.

Jihadist attacks in Tunisia have cost dozens of lives among security forces as well as civilians, and 59 foreign tourists were also killed in 2015.

Tunisia has executed more than 100 people since independence from France in 1956, but has had a moratorium on the death penalty since 1991.

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