The speaker of Tunisia’s dissolved parliament and arch-rival to President Kais Saied was released late on Thursday, his lawyer said, after standing trial on a case involving money laundering and “incitement to violence”.
Rached Ghannouchi, who also heads the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party that dominated Tunisian politics for a decade until Saied staged a coup in mid-2021, was previously questioned in the case in July.
Other Ennahdha members are also facing charges for suspicious transactions involving Instalingo, a company that produces digital content.
The company has been under investigation since last year for “planning against state security” and inciting violence.
After a 14-hour hearing, the investigating judge released Ghannouchi, his lawyer Sami Triki said, adding that no date for the next hearing has yet been set.
Earlier in the day, the 81-year-old arrived at court in the coastal city of Sousse, where he told reporters the case was an “empty file” and an “invented problem”.
“This is trumpery and aimed at distracting the Tunisian people from the real problems we face,” he said.
Ghannouchi has been heavily critical of Saied’s takeover in July 2021, when the president sacked the Ennahdha-backed government and assumed full executive powers.
Saied also dissolved parliament and pushed through a constitution that gave his own office almost unlimited powers.
Ghannouchi and other Ennahdha officials are also on trial in a separate case known as the “delivery of jihadists” to conflict zones, which has been at the center of political debate for years and has recently resurfaced.
Ennahdha denies all allegations against its members.
In July, judges froze the Tunisian bank accounts of Ghannouchi and several relatives and members of his party.
It came after a court issued a travel ban against him in May as part of an investigation into the 2013 murders of two prominent left-wing figures.