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HRW demands ‘credible’ probe on Tunisia detainee death

The ministry said it had launched an inquiry

Published: Updated:

Human Rights Watch called Tuesday for a "transparent and credible" investigation by Tunisia into the suspicious death of a prisoner who had complained of police torture.

Abdelmajid Ejday died on May 13 in the National Guard headquarters in Sidi Bouzid, the birthplace of Tunisia's 2011 uprising against longtime strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, HRW said in a statement.

"He had filed a torture complaint four weeks earlier against police officers from the same area who detained him in February," the statement said.

"Given Ejday's prior allegations of police torture, a transparent and credible investigation into his death is particularly important," said Eric Goldstein, HRW's deputy Middle East and North Africa director.

"Tunisian authorities need to get to the bottom of what happened to Abdelmajid Ejday."

The interior ministry said Ejday was arrested on May 12 on suspicion of car theft and he had committed suicide the following day.

The ministry said it had launched an inquiry.

New York-based HRW said Ejday's autopsy report suggested he had died from asphyxiation due to hanging.

"The report also describes injuries on the scalp, and bruises on the anterior part of the right shoulder, the back of the left shoulder, and the anterior of the right thigh," the watchdog said.

It said it had identified two other cases of suspicious death in police custody in recent years -- Mohamed Ali Snoussi in October 2014 and Walid Denguir in November 2013.

"Police torture of suspects in detention remains a problem in Tunisia," HRW said.

The U.N. special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, last year labelled Tunisia's efforts to eradicate the practice "disappointing" in spite of "very encouraging developments" in other areas of human rights reform.