The Court of the First Instance of Medenine has sentenced Ramzi Abcha, accused of desecrating the Quran, to four years imprisonment. Abcha received one year in jail for each act of desecration that he committed in four different mosques in the southeastern town of Ben Guerdane.
The court additionally fined the defandant 120 dinars for each instance of abuse of the Quran, which is to be paid to the Association for the Memorization of the Holy Quran and Imams and Mosques of Ben Guerdane, according to TAP.
Abdennasser Aouini, a Tunisian lawyer who became an internet sensation last year due to his presence in a viral video released immediately following the departure of Ben Ali, represented the defendant at the trial. Aouini maintained that the accused ought to receive psychiatric treatment to justify the claim that his client is not criminally responsible due to a mental illness, stated TAP.
Aouini also demanded that each of the four related cases against Abcha be merged into one proceeding. He added to TAP that there were several instances in which mistreatment occurred during the handling of the accused’s file.
The Association for the Memorization of the Holy Quran and Imams and Mosques of Ben Guerdane, represented by a team of seven prosecutors, demanded that the case be referred to the office of the public prosecutor in order to “carry on with the investigation and require that a maximum sentence is inflicted on the accused.”
The Attorney General was also present at the hearing and supported the prosecution’s position. This move by the Attorney General was ill-advised given that his role is limited to the observation of the case, Aouini stated to TAP.
On March 31st, Al Machhad, an online news publication, reported that, based on testimony from Abcha’s doctor and brother, the accused “was not in his full mental capacities” when he carried out the crime.
The defendant’s brother also stated that Abcha was a Salafist, and that he had been seeing a psychiatrist in the neighboring town of Zarzis. A medical certificate dating to January 9th was included in the report published on the website.
Mohamed Mars, the press officer representing the Association for the Memorization of the Holy Quran and Imams and Mosques of Ben Guerdane stated to Tunisia Live that the crime is “quite significant in principle.” However Mars added that, if Abcha were to be diagnosed with a mental illness, “he would no longer be responsible for his act.”
He continued that the association would not contradict the judge’s sentence on Abcha, insisting that “they do not want to add a political dimension to the case.”