Urgent Interventions

Press release-Tunisia: The OMCT reacts to the adjournment of the Hamma Hammami trial


Geneva, 11 March 2002

The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) continues to be seriously concerned by recent developments in the human rights situation in Tunisia. The appeal trial of Hamma Hammami, Samir Tamallah and Abdeljabar Madouri has been adjourned until 30 March.

OMCT, who sent a representative to observe the trial on appeal of Hamma Hammami, Samir Tamallah and Abdeljabar Madouri by the 14th Correctional chamber of the Appeal Court of Tunis on 9 March, following an appeal issued by the accused at the conclusion of their trial on 2 February, noted that:

1. The security forces deployed both outside and inside the Court appeared to be totally disproportionate with regard to the menace posed by the detainees ;
2. The family members of the accused, interested members of the Tunisian public as well as around twenty foreign observers were refused access to the Court ;
3. Access to the files of the accused was only granted to their lawyers 5 days before the appeal hearing and the text of the judgement by the court of first instance was only made available the day prior to the appeal.

It was based on this last argument, upon which lawyers for the three accused insisted in their pleadings, that the Court finally decided to adjourn the hearing until 30 March. The bail application lodged by the refused was denied and they have been remanded in custody awaiting the next appeal hearing.

Eric Sottas, Director of OMCT, has stated that, in light of the fact that there was effectively no first instance trial, thereby depriving the accused of the opportunity of having their case heard before this jurisdiction, the appeal proceedings have no legal value. He notes that, as a consequence, a failure to acquit and release Hamma Hammami, Samir Tamallah and Abdeljabar Madouri at the end of the trial on 30 March, will serve as proof of the fact that the political power is holding the judicial power hostage in Tunisia.

Contact OMCT : Eric Sottas, Director +4122/809.49.39
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