Tunisian judges, lawyers protest police 'pressures'


Tunis (AFP)

Dozens of judges and lawyers staged a work stoppage outside a court near the Tunisian capital on Thursday over alleged pressure from police in a trial involving their colleagues.

"The independence of the judiciary is a red line," chanted the demonstrators standing on the steps of the courthouse in Ben Arous in their black robes and white neck bands.

"Security agents are not above the law. We are building a democratic state. All institutions must respect each other," one of the judges, Basma Hamada, told AFP.

The association of Tunisian magistrates called for the two-hour work stoppage in the country's courts on Thursday's "day of rage".

On Monday, police officers, some in uniform and some in police cars with flashing lights, gathered outside the courthouse calling for the release of five colleagues being tried on charges of torturing a detainee.

A police union member denied the force had been exerting undue pressure on the judiciary.

"How could we have been putting pressure on the judiciary when we were outside the courthouse?" Nessim Rouissi asked on private radio station Shems FM.