The speaker of Tunisia’s dissolved parliament and arch-rival of President Kais Saied appeared in court on Thursday as part of a case involving money laundering and “incitement to violence.”
Rached Ghannouchi, who also heads the Ennahdha party that dominated Tunisian politics for a decade until mid-2021, was previously questioned on the case in July.
Other Ennahdha members are also facing prosecution over suspect transactions with Instalingo, a digital content production firm, which Tunisian media accuse of running defamation campaigns against state officials.
The company has been under investigation since last year for allegedly “plotting against state security” and inciting violence.
As he arrived at court in the coastal city of Sousse on Thursday, Ghannouchi told journalists that the case is “trumped-up and aimed at distracting the Tunisian people from the real problems we’re facing.”
The 81-year-old has harshly criticized Saied’s July 2021 power grab, in which the president sacked the Ennahdha-supported government and seized full executive authority, later dissolving parliament and pushing through a constitution giving his own office almost unlimited powers.
Ghannouchi and other Ennahdha officials are also on trial for allegedly facilitating the departure of Tunisian extremists for war zones including Syria and Iraq.
Ennahdha denies all the charges against its members.
In July, judges froze Ghannouchi’s Tunisian bank accounts and those of several relatives and members of his party.
That came after a court issued a travel ban against him in May as part of an enquiry into the 2013 killings of two prominent left-wing figures.