UN rights chief condemns Tunisia killing, demands probe

A photo taken October 23, 2012 shows Tunisian opposition figure Mohamed Brahmi after he arrived at the Constituent Assembly in Tunis while he was undertaking a hunger strike against the Islamist Ennahda government. Brahmi was shot dead outside his home in Ariana, state media announced on July 25, 2013. PHOTO AFP  

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Thursday condemned the killing of Tunisian opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi, demanding an investigation into his slaying.

"I am shocked and deeply saddened by the news of Mr. Brahmi's assassination. I call upon the authorities to immediately launch a prompt and transparent investigation to ensure that the people who carried out this crime are held accountable," Ms Pillay said in a statement.

Brahmi, a leading opposition figure and critic of Tunisia's ruling Islamists, was shot dead by unknown gunmen outside his home near the capital Tunis on Thursday.

It was the second such assassination this year, with fingers again pointed at the authorities.

The murder by unknown gunmen sparked angry street protests in central Tunis and the top opposition figure's birthplace of Sidi Bouzid where he served as MP.

"Mohamed Brahmi, general coordinator of the Popular Movement and member of the National Constituent Assembly, was shot dead outside his home in Ariana," near Tunis, Watanya state television and the official TAP news agency reported.

"He was riddled with bullets in front of his wife and children," Mohsen Nabti, a fellow member of the small leftist movement, said in a tearful account aired on Tunisian radio.


The interior ministry, cited by TAP, said that Brahmi, a 58-year-old MP and vocal critic of Tunisia's ruling Islamists, was assassinated as he left home. Watanya said Brahmi was struck by a hail of 11 bullets fired from point-blank range.

The February 6 assassination of Chokri Belaid, another opposition figure, in front of his home sparked a political crisis in Tunisia and charges of government connivance.

Brahmi's family said Ennahda was behind the latest murder.

"I accuse Ennahda. It was them who killed him," the MP's sister Chhiba Brahmi told AFP at the family home in Sidi Bouzid, without providing any evidence.

"Our family had the feeling that Mohamed would suffer the same fate as Chokri Belaid," whose family also blamed the authorities, she said.

Condemning the latest killing, lawyer Mabrouk Korchid told AFP that Brahmi was "assassinated in cold blood on the day that Tunisia is marking" the 56th anniversary of the republic's declaration.

Brahmi, a man with a bushy moustache and weather-beaten complexion, was elected MP for Sidi Bouzid, birthplace of the 2011 revolution which toppled president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

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