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Tunisia prosecutor appeals ruling on raped woman

Published: Updated:
The public prosecution in Tunisia has appealed against last week’s court ruling to drop a case of possible indecency against a young woman allegedly raped by two policemen, her lawyer said on Monday.



“We just found out this morning that the prosecution has lodged an appeal,” Bochra Belhaj Hmida told AFP. “It’s their right, legally, there’s nothing that can be said about that. But on the moral front...”



A Tunis judge last Thursday dropped the case against the woman, whose identity has been kept secret, while two accused officers are to face rape charges and a third for extortion.



The 27-year-old rape victim faced possible indecency charges with her fiancé based on the testimony of the alleged rapists, policemen who say they took the couple by surprise in an “immoral position” just before the alleged attack.



A judicial source has previously said that the police had taken the couple by surprise as they were having sex in their car.



Two of them then took the woman to a police car, where they raped her in turn, while a third restrained and tried to extort money from her fiancé at a bank cashpoint, the source added.



Last month a magistrate had questioned the woman, alleged raped on Sep. 3, to decide whether she was to be charged with indecency, which could carry a six-month prison sentence.



The case sparked a storm of protest in Tunisia, with NGOs, media and opposition figures saying the proceedings had transformed the victim into the accused and reflected the Islamist-led government’s policy towards women.



Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, from the ruling Islamist party Ennahda, said in October that the policemen, arrested shortly after the incident, would be “severely judged.”



But he also said there may be a case of indecency to answer.



However, President Moncef Marzouki in October offered a state apology to the woman.



Since the Islamists’ rise to power after last year’s revolution, feminist groups have accused police of regularly harassing women, by challenging them over their clothing or if they go out at night unaccompanied by family members.