Sometimes, it was a much more classic claim, like "Freedom for lawyers, down with corruption!", "The right of defense is the guarantor of an independent justice". In their redundancy as in their diversity, the slogans could only translate the multitude of grievances.
It all began on September 19th at the Palais de Justice in Tunis. Lawyers representing the "Martyrs Defense Collective Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi", two figures of the Tunisian left assassinated in 2013, burst into the office of the public prosecutor at the Tunis Court of First Instance, accused of dragging on for several months the case of an alleged secret apparatus linked to the Islamist-conservative party Ennahda, allegedly linked to the political assassinations of 2013.
The move was aimed at putting pressure on the prosecutor, who would have political connections with Ennahda, according to repeated critics. After a few hours, during which they observed a sit-in, the lawyers are dislodged manu militari during an intervention of the police. The versions diverge from this moment. The judges refer to an "unacceptable", "flagrant" and "unprecedented" aggression by the group's lawyers. This is evidenced by the state of total devastation in which the Office of the Prosecutor was located after the passage of lawyers. An investigation is therefore opened against a number of them and a ten-day strike decreed in the wake.
Any other story on the side of the lawyers. Following the extraordinary meeting of September 20, the national organization of Tunisian lawyers (ONAT) "strongly condemned the dangerous aggression" of which the members of the Collective were victims, following the intervention of the forces of the order, on request of the Prosecutor. The Tunisian Bar also held the latter as "responsible" for the deterioration of the situation and ruled that the acts of vandalism attributed to the lawyers would rather proceed to a "manipulation", a "staged" cleverly orchestrated, can we read in a statement. All while regretting the strike of the magistrates, assimilated to a "climbing" and "a flight forward".
"There were other forms of protest, which were less prejudicial to the litigants and to the public service of justice, to which the judges could have resorted. Wear a red armband, organize a sit-in, a demonstration, or even strike for half a day at a pinch, but not paralyze the public service for 10 days! ", Regrets Mr. Walid Gadouar, member of the regional section lawyers in Tunis, in a statement to Sputnik.
False, replies the Tunisian Association of Magistrates (AMT), which said that the judges were "obliged" to conduct this strike, given "the systematic attacks perpetrated by lawyers against judges and the functioning of justice. These are practices that can not be tolerated (…) in any rule of law, "reads a statement on Sunday, 29 September.
Escalation for escalation, and in the face of events, the bar has lodged a complaint against the Prosecutor in question and announced his intention to seize the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Justice, as well as the Commission of Human Rights. the man of the United Nations. All this while insisting on the "categorical refusal to invite lawyers who are the subject of judicial information to appear, by attachment to the principle of the immunity of the lawyer in the performance of his duties".
"In reality, it is the question of the immunity of lawyers that bothers judges, who no longer support no longer have the upper hand on lawyers, as was the time before the revolution in 2011", said Mr. Walid Gadouar, referring to article 105 of the 2014 Constitution, which states that "the lawyer has the legal guarantees that ensure his protection and allow him to perform his duties". The same article makes them partners with judges in the establishment of justice.
"After the clashes of September 19, the case took on purely corporatist dimensions, on both sides", summarizes Master Walid Gadouar.
"It is not so much the immunity of lawyers as the tendency of some of them to take advantage of this constitutional loophole to gain authority over judges," sums up a magistrate in Sputnik, citing as examples many " strokes "attributed to lawyers and perpetrated against judges.
"Then, to achieve their ends, they will put forward the independence of justice, which is a convenient argument," said the magistrate, who is not part of any union or association magistrates and wishes, at this time title, remain anonymous.
An allusion to the virulent accusations that the Tunisian judiciary has been suffering for several weeks following the controversial arrest of Nabil Karoui, the party's president Qalb Tounes. Accused of "money laundering" and "tax evasion", this candidate in the second round of the presidential election, which is hot on the heels of polls favorite Kaïes Saïed, is still languishing in prison, hence he claims the status of political prisoner.
In the meantime, the Tunisian courts resumed their normal functioning, Monday, September 30, after the various protagonists recorded, each on its side, points "political". A new truce punctuates relations of tension and rivalry between judges and lawyers, pending the conclusion of a new modus vivendi. This objective will depend on the goodwill of both sides, but also on the next and new configuration of the Tunisian political landscape.