Two Tunisian rappers, Weld El 15 and Klay BBJ, have been given 21 month jail terms in absentia for insulting officials, their lawyer said on 4 September 2013, criticising the ruling as a new attack on freedom of expression.
This was reported by AFP.
The trial took place on 30 August 2013 without the rappers or their lawyer being summoned, and the ruling is with immediate effect. Rapper Weld El 15 (real name: Ala Yaacoubi) and Klay BBJ could be jailed at any moment.
“I will speak to my clients to challenge this ruling, but jail sentences demonstrate that the relentless campaign against artistic freedom, freedom of expression, continues,” said the rappers’ lawyer, Ghazi Mrabet.
The two young men, who were arrested at a concert in the eastern town of Hammamet on 22 August 2013 and freed the following day, were convicted of insulting officials, violating public morals and defamation.
Two-year sentence reduced
One of the two rappers, Weld El 15, was jailed on 13 June 2013 for a controversial song he wrote called ‘The Police are Dogs’, and freed on appeal on 2 July 2013 after his two-year sentence was reduced on appeal to a six-month suspended term.
When he was arrested, Weld El 15 was violently beaten, according to his lawyer, who said he had a medical certificate confirming that he was unable to work for 16 days.
According to AFP, the rappers’ trial is the latest in a number of cases that have raised rights concerns in the North African country.
Al Ahram – 3 September 2013:
Tunisia hands two rappers jail terms in absentia
“Two young Tunisian rappers have been convicted of insulting officials, violating public morals and defamation, and handed jail sentences in absentia” By AFP
The Daily Star – 2 September 2013:
Tunisia hands two rappers jail terms in absentia: lawyer
“Two Tunisian rappers have been given 21 month jail terms in absentia for insulting officials, their lawyer said Monday, criticising the ruling as a new attack on freedom of expression.” By Antoine Lambroschini