Samir Feriani trial delayed

On 16 February a court postponed the trial of Samir Feriani to 1 March. Ferani is charged with “distributing false information”, and “accusing a public employee of violating law without proof”.

Feriani, a former senior official at the Interior Ministry, became known to the public in May 2011 when he published in two local newspapers, L’Audace, and L’expert, a letter in which he accused high ranking officials at the Ministry of being responsible for the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising. Before publishing the letter, Feriani addressed it to the Interior Minister at that time Habib Essid, who seems to have ignored it.

In his letter Feriani also claimed that classified documents showing collaboration between ousted Tunisian President Ben Ali and the Israeli secret service Mossad were intentionally destroyed by officials in the ministry.

After the allegations were made, Feriani was arrested and taken into military detention on 19 May 2011. He described his arrest as a “murder attempt”. “A car sought to crash over me”, he said.

On 22 September, a military court in Tunis provisionally set him free, acquitted him of the charge of “harming the external security of the state”, and deferred his case to a civil court.

“I do trust the judiciary…just like the military justice proved my innocence, the civil justice will do the same”, Feriani toldIndex a few days before the 16 February hearing.

He also denied that he is on a hunger strike, saying: “I would like to assure the public opinion, that I feel high in my spirits.”

Feriani is still plagued by the allegations made against him. On 1 February he was sacked from his job at the Interior Ministry. “The decision to sack me was abusive…there is a smear campaign organised against me by the old secret police”.

Feriani is often described as Tunisia’s first prisoner of conscience in the post Ben Ali era.