Tripoli, 9 June:
Two Libyans, accused of being member of Al-Qaeda’s offshoot in North Africa — Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb . . .[restrict](AQIM) — were jailed for 20 years by a Tunisian court today, Saturday. Hafedh Dhabaa and Nabil Yusef were found guilty along with five others of the murder of two army officers last year. Five others — a Libyan, a Tunisian and three Algerians, who are still at large — were tried in absentia and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The two were arrested on 15 May last year following a shootout between Tunisian troops and an armed group in the Tunisian town of Rouhia, 150 kilometres south-west of Tunis. In the shootout, a Tunisian colonel and captain were killed as were nine of the attackers. Two other officers severely wounded.
Dhabaa and Yusef have both denied any involvement in the killings, saying that their only crime was to cross into Tunisia without valid passports. Their lawyer, Mohamed Jmour, claimed that they had “neither arms, nor any plans to attack at the moment of their arrest”.
However, it was reported at the time that they were arrested that they were in possession of an explosives belt and bombs and that they had joined AQIM in 2006 with the aim of going to Iraq. Tunisian prosecutors claimed the two had admitted during interrogation to using arms “which proves their involvement in the killings”. They had sought the death penalty.