Tunisian protester dies after Revolution Day clashes with police

Opposition leaders say the 67-year-old man was subjected to excessive violence by police during protests against President Kais Saied

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A Tunisian man died in hospital on Wednesday from injuries inflicted by police, activists and the main opposition Ennahda party said, in what would be the first death related to protests against President Kais Saied's assumption of extra powers.

A Tunis court investigating the death said the man, Ridha Bouziane, 67, who was found in a coma on Mohamed V Street in the capital, was taken to hospital on Friday and died on Wednesday. A court statement made no mention of whether the man was one of the demonstrators.

The court said the man's body bore no visible signs of violence and would be handed to forensic examiners to determine the cause of death. An investigation had been opened, it added.

There was no immediate comment from the interior ministry.

The Ennahda party said, however, that Mr Bouziane, who is one of its members, was subjected to violence at the hands of police, which resulted in severe bleeding in his brain.

"Ridha Bouziane, who took part in the January 14 protest, died in a hospital in the capital after suffering serious injuries as a result of the excessive violence by police in the demonstration," said Citizens Against the Coup, a coalition of political parties who oppose Mr Saied and who participated in Friday's protests.

Police deployed water cannons, pepper spray and batons against protesters at the rallies, which were in defiance of a ban on gatherings, as Mr Saied faced growing discontent over his suspension of parliament in July and subsequent rule by decree.

On Tuesday, a group of prominent civil society organisations called on the president to "publicly apologise for the gross assaults on demonstrators in the January 14 protests, and hold accountable all aggressors who violated people's right to protest".

Ennahda said it holds President Saied and his interior minister fully responsible for Mr Bouziane's death, and said it will prosecute those involved.

Samir Ben Amor, a lawyer for arrested protesters, also said Mr Bouziane died due to police violence, although no more specifics were given.

Mr Saied said he will uphold all freedoms during a transitional period to a new constitution later this year.

Updated: June 14, 2023, 7:18 AM