March 9, 2002 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Appeal hearing of Hamma Hammami is postponed

The hearing of the appeal of Tunisian communist leader Hamma Hammami, editor of the party newspaper El Badil, against a nine-year prison sentence for subversion was postponed for three weeks by the Tunis appeal court on 9 March. The court, which convened amid a heavy police presence, refused to release him on bail, along with two associates, Abdeljabar Madouri and Samir Tâamallah, and rescheduled the hearing of their appeals for 30 March. A representative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) who flew from Paris for the hearing, and Laurence Bezaguet, of the Swiss daily La Tribune de Genève, were not allowed into the courtroom. Neither was one of Hammami's brothers, along with Marguerite Rollinde, of the French-based Hourriya/Liberté Committee, and several dozen Tunisian and French nationals. The local correspondents of international news agencies and the BBC were allowed to report on the proceedings however. The three men had been tried and convicted in absentia on 14 July 1999 on various charges of subversion, among them "spreading false news" and "running an illegal organisation" (the Tunisian Communist Workers' Party -- PCOT). They were each sentenced to nine years and three months in prison. On 14 January 2001, their lawyers formally objected to the convictions and the three men came out of hiding on 2 February 2002 to appear in court that day when, amid chaotic scenes and legal abuses, their sentences were re-stated.