Tunisian activists allege detainee was tortured to death

Radhia Nasraoui, head of the Tunisian Association Against Torture, denounced on Monday the death of a man who died in a hospital in Tunisia's capital city after allegedly being tortured in a police station.

Nasraoui said that Abdel Rauf al-Khomasy, 40, died on Saturday evening in Tunis’ Charles Nicole hospital, after he was “exposed to torture” at the police station in the district of Sidi Hussein. He was detained for questioning in a theft case.

The Tunisian Interior Ministry announced that Khomasy was arrested on 28 August 2012 in relation to a criminal case, but did not explain its nature.

The ministry added that Khomasy suffered on Saturday “a severe case of fainting, so he was taken to the emergency department at Charles Nicole Hospital, where it was found that he had a concussion and needed to be kept for medical investigation.” Khomasy died shortly after.

“After the citizen's death on Saturday evening, the investigating judge ordered that four police officers who interrogated the dead man be detained pending investigation, which is still ongoing to uncover the circumstances of his death,” the ministry statement said.

Nasraoui said that police arrested Khomasy when he was in a hospital visiting his wife, who is being treated for cancer, after a neighbor accused him of theft.

“This tragedy demonstrates that the practice of torture in Tunisia continues even after the fall of the regime of [ousted President Zine al-Abidine] Ben Ali.”

Nasraoui, a well-known human rights activist, accused the government, led by the Islamic Ennahda Party, of continuing to use methods of torture that were “systematic practice” in the era of Ben Ali.

After the overthrow of the ousted Tunisian president on 14 January 2011, several torture cases were recorded in prisons and police stations, according to human rights organizations.

Tunisia had vowed to propose, before the end of July 2012, a plan to stop torture that includes regular inspections of prisons, detention centers and police stations.

Edited translation from AFP

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