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Tunisia Vows to Arrest Returning Jihadists | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi speaks during the congress of the Ennahda Movement in Tunis, Tunisia May 20, 2016. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi – RTSF8BR

Tunisia- Tunisia’s Prime Minister Youssef Chahed on Thursday said all jihadists returning from foreign battlefields would be immediately arrested and judged according to the country’s counter-terrorism law.

“The Tunisian state has not signed any deal on the return of terrorists and the government’s position on the matter is clear: it does not support the return from areas of tension,” said the premier, who met President Beji Caid Essebsi on Thursday afternoon.

Concern about the return of jihadists has risen since Tunisian Anis Amri, 24, was identified as the suspected attacker who mowed down 11 people with a truck at a Berlin Christmas market last week and also killed the driver.

Chahed said Tunisia “has lists of all (Tunisian) terrorists who are in areas of tension and who have been part of terrorist organisations. We know each and every one of them and have all the data on them.”

His comments came after a ministerial meeting to decide on an action plan to tackle the issue did not take place on Thursday as planned.

He stressed that Tunisian authorities take this topic seriously and have all the given regarding the terrorists existing in war zones.

But President Beji Caid Essebsi, citing the constitution, said the authorities cannot prevent a Tunisian from returning home.

In the same context, media sources reported that Tunisia is willing to fix one of the current prisons for terrorists until the new prison is constructed – yet this was denied by government sources in the ministry of justice.

The Tunisian Minister of Justice gave orders to start with the construction of the first part of a civil prison of about 25 hectares and nearly TND4.5 million (USD1.8 million) cost.

The minister added that the new prison is to substitute the old one in Béja.