Tunisia convicts dozens of jihadists over teen beheading
London, Jan. 9, 2019 (AltAfrica)– A Tunisian court has convicted dozens of jihadists over the 2015 murder of a teenage shepherd, but the vast majority remain on the run, a prosecution spokesman said Wednesday.
Mabrouk Soltani, 17, was beheaded as his sheep grazed on Mount Mghilla in central west Tunisia.
The details of the murder sparked outrage, with the victim’s cousin forced to watch and carry his head to the family home.
A total of 49 people were convicted on Tuesday over the murder, including 45 in absentia, the prosecutor’s spokesman Sofiene Sliti said.
Four were sentenced to death, one of whom is in custody, while the others were sentenced to between 15 and 36 years in prison.
Tunisian courts continue to issue death sentences despite no executions being carried out since 1991.
Those convicted over Soltani’s killing were prosecuted under Tunisia’s 2015 anti-terror legislation.
The murder was claimed by the Tunisian branch of the Islamic State group, Jund al-Khilafa, in a video which showed the killing.
Two years later, Soltani’s brother Khalifa was abducted and killed in the same area, in an attack also claimed by IS.
The mountainous area near the Algerian border is also a stronghold of the Al-Qaeda-linked Okba Ibn Nafaa Battalion.
Since its 2011 revolution, Tunisia has experienced an increase in jihadist attacks that have killed dozens of members of the security forces and at least 59 foreign tourists.
The country has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when an IS-claimed suicide bombing in Tunis killed 12 presidential guards.