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Tunisia police rape trial a taxing ‘ordeal’

13 February 2014, 19:59

Tunis - The trial of two Tunisian policemen for raping a young woman in 2012 was put back to 31 March after a brief hearing on Thursday, the latest delay in what the victim described as an "ordeal".

The defence team asked for the delay to be able to examine the demands presented by the victim's lawyers, one of them, Slaheddine Hajri, told AFP.

The victim, known by the pseudonym Meriem Ben Mohamed, said before the latest delay that she feared the hearing, in which the police were to be questioned and their defence submitted, would once again be postponed, as has happened several times since October.

"If only this ordeal would end", she told AFP.

The judge had ordered the hearing to be held behind closed doors because of the sensitive moral issues involved in the case.

A psychologist's report, commissioned by the court and seen by AFP, diagnosed the victim, who was 27 years old at the time of the incident, with "depression aggravating a state of post-traumatic stress".

"These difficulties can last for months or years after the rape", the report said.

In all, three police officers are on trial. Two of them, Chawki Ben Ammar and Walid Feriani face rape charges. A third is charged with extortion.

The policemen say they found the woman and her boyfriend having sex in their car in a Tunis suburb in September 2012.

According to the charges, they then took the woman to a police car, where two of them raped her, while the third policeman allegedly tried to extort money from her fiancé at a bank cash point.

The public prosecutor tried unsuccessfully to bring indecency charges against the couple, sparking a storm of protest and a campaign of support for the young woman.

She has since published a book in France giving her account of what happened, entitled "Guilty of being raped".



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