Tunisia′s prime minister vows to arrest repatriated jihadis amid growing criticism | News | DW | 30.12.2016
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Terrorism

Tunisia's prime minister vows to arrest repatriated jihadis amid growing criticism

Several political parties have called for the repatriation of Tunisian militants to be indefinitely blocked. Berlin has pressured Tunis to accept rejected asylum-seekers from Tunisia after the Christmas market attack.

Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said on Thursday that jihadis seeking to return to or who have been sent back to the North African country would be arrested and tried under counter-terrorism laws, a measure that has seen widespread criticism from social and political groups.

"The Tunisian state has not signed any deal on the return of terrorists, and the government's position on the matter is clear. It does not support the return from areas of tension," Chahed told state broadcaster "El Wataniya" after meeting with President Beji Caid Essebsi.

"Those who do return will be immediately arrested on their arrival on Tunisian territory and will be tried, and the counter-terrorism law will be applied against them," he added.

Tunis has come under increased scrutiny after German authorities identified 24-year-old Tunisian national Anis Amri as the main suspect in the Christmas market attack on December 19 that left 12 people dead and dozens more injured in Berlin.

Although Germany rejected Amri's request for asylum, his deportation had been delayed by Tunisian authorities' inability to confirm his identity as a Tunisian national.

Since the attack, Berlin has pressured Tunis into expediting the return of suspected jihadis to the North African country.

'Intention to repatriate'

However, the measure to address returning foreign fighters and suspected militants has been met with nationwide criticism in Tunisia.

More than 1,000 people on Sunday took to the streets of the nation's capital to protest the repatriation of foreign fighters.

On Thursday, six political parties issued a joint statement calling for the Tunisian government to block the repatriation of suspected jihadis.

"The German government had announced its intention to repatriate several asylum seekers among them Tunisian nationals," the statement said, adding that they should not be allowed to enter Tunisia, reported Tunis Afrique Presse (TAP) agency.

Meanwhile, the union for domestic security forces called on the government to strip Tunisian jihadis overseas of their nationality in a bid to prevent them from returning to the country.

However, Essebsi said it is not possible to strip Tunisians of their nationality, citing the constitution. Instead, they must be brought to justice if they have committed terrorist attacks, he noted.

ls/sms (AFP, TAP, Wataniya)

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