Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 October 2019

Tunisia presidential candidate to stay in jail

Media magnate Nabil Karoui is under investigation for alleged money laundering

Nabil Karoui, pictured in April 2012, was arrested in August on tax evasion and money laundering charges. AP
Nabil Karoui, pictured in April 2012, was arrested in August on tax evasion and money laundering charges. AP

A fresh appeal for the release of jailed media mogul Nabil Karoui, who has a reached a runoff in Tunisia's presidential polls, was turned down on Wednesday, his lawyers said.

"The judge has refused to give a ruling, saying it was not in his jurisdiction," lawyer Kamel Ben Messoud said, after requesting his release the previous day.

"We will appeal," he told AFP.

The court did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation.

Mr Karoui, a 56-year-old media magnate, is under investigation for alleged money laundering and has been in pre-trial detention since August 23.

Lawyer Nazih Souii said it was the third time a judge had said the matter was beyond his jurisdiction.

The court of appeals refused to pass judgement on September 3, as did the court of cassation on September 13.

Tunisia's electoral commission, ISIE, has confirmed Mr Karoui made it to the presidential runoff along with law professor Kais Saied following Sunday's first round vote.

Mr Karoui remains eligible to run despite his imprisonment, as long as any conviction does not also specifically deprive him of his civil rights, according to ISIE.

He campaigned through the Nessma television channel he founded.

ISIE has said it is investigating alleged electoral violations, including by Nessma TV.

Depending on potential appeals, the second round could be staged on October 6, the same day as legislative elections, or on October 13, ISIE said.

Observers from the European Union said the first round has been "transparent" but, in an apparent allusion to the case of Mr Karoui, it called for the candidates to have the "same opportunities" to campaign.

Updated: September 19, 2019 12:46 AM

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