Sixty Tunisians accused of complicity in the attack on military installations in the mining town of Gafsa in january, went on trial in Tunis Yesterday (10 March).
GV EXTERIOR Courtroom building
SV Armed guard patrolling perimeter fence
SVs Armed guards outside courtroom (2 shots)
GV INTERIOR Prisoners assembling in dock
SV & SV PAN Prisoners seated in dock (2 shots)
SCU PAN Weapons and other military equipment on display
SV PULL BACK GV Judge takes seat
SV Lawyers talking at back of court
GV & SVs Prisoners in dock (4 shots)
GV Judge and courtroom officials on bench
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Background: Sixty Tunisians accused of complicity in the attack on military installations in the mining town of Gafsa in january, went on trial in Tunis Yesterday (10 March). Fifty-three of the accused were in court for the start of the trial, seven others are to be tried in absentia.
SYNOPSIS: The trial is being held at barracks in the outskirts of Tunis.
The Tunisian government alleges that the Libyan Jamahiriyah was responsible for the Gafsa attack, in which over forty people died and over a hundred were wounded. Libya has rejected the charge that it was trying to undermine President Bourguiba's administration. The Arab League recently called for a Pan-Arab committee to be set up to mediate in the dispute. The personal representative of the Arab League's Secretary General has been visiting both Tunisia and Libya in an effort to obtain assurances that neither country will intervene in the affairs of the other. Nevertheless relations between Libya and Tunisia remain strained.
Twenty-nine of the, Tunisians standing trial arrived in Gafsa from Tripoli via Algiers. The others were living in Gafsa at the time of the attack. The accused are charged with launching an attack on the Tunisian government, and with murder, pillage and disorder, and inciting the inhabitants of Gafsa to arms. The prisoners also face charges of causing explosions, illegally crossing frontiers, and illegal membership of a foreign-based organisation dedicated to the overthrow of the Tunisian administration. If found guilty the accused men could face the death sentence.
Although the trial is only now underway, President Bourguiba has sent envoys to European and Asian leaders informing them that the attack on Gafsa is evidence of aggression against Tunisia by a neighbouring state.