Suspected Belaid killer named as Tunisian president testifies
By Antoine Lambroschini ,AFPTUNIS -- Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki testified on Thursday in the murder probe of Chokri Belaid, as a judicial source named the Salafist suspected of the assassination that plunged the country into turmoil.
March 2, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
“President Moncef Marzouki received this morning the judge of the Tunis first instance tribunal who heard his testimony as a witness in the assassination of Chokri Belaid,” said a brief statement.
Belaid's family say the president knew of death threats against Belaid, who was a vocal critic of the ruling Islamist party Ennahda, before he was murdered, claims presidential spokesman Adnene Mancer has denied.
On Thursday, Belaid's brother Abdelmajid repeated the claims to AFP.
“My brother had told me, and I quote him: 'The presidency has contacted me to tell me that I am threatened with death. And the president offered me protection but I refused because it would be tantamount to controlling me.'”
Abdelmajid added: “As far as I am concerned, the president knows who ordered the murder, those who decided to kill Chokri.”
Belaid's relatives have dismissed the Tunisian government's assertion that radical Salafist Muslims carried out Belaid's murder, insisting instead that Ennahda was responsible, a claim the party strongly denies.
Interior Minister Ali Larayedh, who is also prime-minister designate, said on Tuesday that the killer, who remains at large, had been identified and that four suspected accomplices had been arrested, without giving their names.
On the same day, Abdelmajid Belaid told AFP: “It is Ennahda that gave the green light to kill my brother.”
A judicial source with access to the murder file told AFP the suspected assassin was Kamel Gathgathi, from the northwestern Jendouba region, who had lived in America.