Tunisia sets bail for former presidential candidate Karoui at $3.7 million

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A Tunisian court on Wednesday set bail for media mogul and former presidential candidate Nabil Karoui at 10 million dinars ($3.7 million) as he awaits trial on corruption charges that he denies, the court spokesman Mohsen Dali said.

Karoui, the owner of Nessma television channel and head of the Heart of Tunisia political party, the second largest in parliament, was detained in December for a second time for alleged money laundering and tax fraud.

In 2019, Karoui beat most candidates to reach a run-off for the presidency despite spending most of the campaign behind bars. He ultimately lost in a landslide to President Kais Saied.

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His Heart of Tunisia party, which came second only to the moderate Islamist Ennahda in a parliamentary election the same year, has joined with it in giving narrow majority support to Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi’s government, which has been locked in a power struggle with the president.

Karoui’s critics regard him as a corrupt populist wrongfully using his television station and a charity he owns for personal political gain. His supporters view him as a champion of Tunisia’s poor and regard his detention as politically motivated.

Tunisia, the only country to emerge with an intact democracy from the “Arab Spring” revolts a decade ago, has since been plagued by political turmoil and economic hardship.

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