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6 Tunisia policemen in the dock over beach attack response

TUNIS: Tunisia is to prosecute six policemen over their response to a 2015 gun and grenade attack on a beach resort that killed 38 foreign holidaymakers, a judiciary spokesman said Wednesday.
The announcement came a day after an inquest into the deaths of the 30 Britons among them found that the response of Tunisian police was “at best shambolic, at worst cowardly.”
The six policemen, who will remain free pending trial, have been charged with “failing to come to the assistance of a person in danger,” said Sofiene Sliti, spokesman for the judiciary’s counter-terrorism section.
No trial date has yet been set.
Sliti said that the six officers were among a total of 33 people who are being prosecuted in connection with the June 2015 attack in Sousse, claimed by Daesh.
Of the others, 14 have been remanded in custody, six are out on bail pending trial, and seven are on the run and to be tried in absentia. Sliti refused to give any details of their identities or the charges that they face. The examining magistrate finished his investigation of the beach massacre in last July, but it is only in recent days that the case has been referred to the criminal court.
Lone gunman Seifeddine Rezgui was able to go on an extended rampage around the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel and the adjacent beach and pool before police arrived and shot him dead.
In his findings on Tuesday, British judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith was scathing about the police response.
“Their response could and should have been more effective,” he said.
Lead lawyer Samantha Leek told the inquest that the Tunisian investigating magistrate had found that “the units that should have intervened in the events deliberately and unjustifiably slowed down to delay their arrival at the hotel.”
But Tunisia’s ambassador to Britain, Nabil Ammar, told the BBC that the accusation that the police had deliberately delayed their arrival was “exaggerated and unfair.”
Meanwhile, soldiers shot dead two suspected terrorists in the mountainous Kasserine region of central Tunisia, the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.
It said more might have been killed on Tuesday evening but the operation on Mount Sammama was still continuing so it was a preliminary toll.
Tunisian media cited military sources as saying that as many as seven suspected extremists might have been killed.
A hospital source in Kasserine said one soldier had suffered a bullet wound.
Mount Sammama is adjacent to Mount Chaambi, considered to be the main rear base of the radicals near the border with Algeria. Soldiers shot dead two suspected militants in the same area on Feb. 17.
The country has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when a suicide bombing in Tunis claimed by Daesh killed 12 presidential guards.-Arab News

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