ALGIERS – The runner-up in Tunisia’s 2019 presidential election, Nabil Karoui, has been placed in pre-trial detention in neighbouring Algeria, accused of “entering the country illegally”, local media reported Sunday. Karoui and his brother Ghazi, an MP, had faced a hearing before a magistrate in the northeastern city of Constantine, the Ennahar newspaper wrote citing “judicial sources”. Constantine prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment. In July, Karoui’s former opponent, President Kais Saied had suspended parliament and granted himself sweeping powers, hitting judges, MPs and businessmen with arrests and travel bans in a supposed anti-corruption purge. Karoui was arrested in late August by Algerian border police, with Tunisia releasing a warrant for his arrest the day after. Algeria and Tunisia are bound by an agreement stipulating the extradition by either country “of any person prosecuted or convicted” in the other. Any extradition request must be “accompanied by an official document from the authorities”. Karoui founded the private Tunisian channel Nessma TV, which is partly owned by Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. He has been under investigation since 2017 in a money laundering and tax evasion case. He was arrested in 2019 and spent more than a month in prison at the height of the presidential election campaign. He was freed but rearrested last December and spent six months in pre-trial detention before being let out again in June.
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