Tunisian Femen activist ‘acquitted’ of defamation
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Tunisian Femen activist Amina Sboui has been acquitted for contempt and defamation, her lawyer said on Monday, after she alleged that detainees in the jail where she was being held for separate charges had been tortured.
A court acquitted Tunisian Femen activist Amina Sboui of contempt and defamation, her lawyer said on Monday, after she claimed that detainees in a jail where she was being held on separate charges had been tortured.
The 19-year-old Sboui, who also goes by the name Amina Tyler, was arrested in May after painting the word “Femen” on a wall near a cemetery in the central city of Kairouan, to protest against an annual gathering of the Salafist group Ansar al-Sharia. The young woman was later jailed after being charged for carrying pepper spray, an offence that carries a sentence between six months and five years. She also faces possible charges for desecrating a cemetery, which carries a maximum sentence of two years.
While detained, Sboui was charged with contempt and defamation for alleging that other detainees in the jail had been tortured.
Her lawyer, Ghazi Mrabet, described the court’s decision to acquit her of the charges “a victory”.
“The judiciary has begun to understand that she has been unfairly prosecuted," Mrabet said.
The young woman’s mother called the verdict “reassuring”.
"I am happy with this decision, it is reassuring for what comes next. I have faith in the judicial system," she told the AFP news agency.
Sboui first stirred controversy in Tunisia back in March, after she posted topless photos of herself online with the words “My body belongs to me” and “F*** your morals” painted on her bare chest. The bold act was lauded by many online, but also drew heavy criticism as well as threats from hardline Islamists.
The Femen movement, founded in Ukraine and now based in Paris, has flourished since 2010, with feminists around the world stripping off in protest at a wide range of social and political issues, in particular the mistreatment of women.
At the end of May, three Femen activists, two French and a German, were arrested after bearing their breasts outside the main courthouse in the capital Tunis, in a demonstration of support for Sboui.
The arrest of the three women triggered international condemnation and they were later released.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)