Crime & Justice

Harsh jail sentence over drug use spurs legalization debate in Tunisia

Tunis, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- Three young Tunisians have received a 30-year prison sentence for possessing and using cannabis, a ruling that has sparked a nationwide debate over the drug use law in the country.

The unprecedented prison sentence has led to mutual understanding between both civil society groups and politicians, who seem to agree that the current narcotics law in the country needs amending.

A local court sentenced the three defendants to serve the maximum possible penalty for having consumed cannabis at a sports venue, which judges deemed to be an aggravating factor given it is a public space.

The families of the defendants told Efe that two of the convicts were waiting for their third friend inside a locker room of a soccer field, where one of them works, before they planned to leave and smoke the cannabis somewhere else.

“How can you be sentenced to 30 years in prison for a joint that you did not smoke”? Sarah Laabidi, the mother of convict Sahem, 28, said.

“It is not a sentence, it is destruction. They have destroyed three families,” she added, becoming visibly emotional.

An appeals court will review the sentence on Tuesday. The original penalty was handed down by a court in the western governorate of Kef.EFE-EPA


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