Tunisia Presidential Candidate Nabil Karoui Released From Prison

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-10-09/jailed-tunisian-presidential-candidate-to-be-freed-lawyer-says

Nabil Karoui in Tunis on Aug. 2.

Photographer: Hasna/AFP via Getty Images

A Tunisian court released media mogul-turned-presidential candidate, Nabil Karoui, who’d been jailed since August on corruption allegations, potentially boosting his chances in this weekend’s run-off vote.

The 56-year-old founder of the local Nessma TV channel who gained fame distributing charity to some of Tunisia’s poorest people, placed second in initial presidential elections in mid-September, riding a wave of popular discontent with the political establishment eight years after the country’s Arab Spring revolt.

Karoui was detained in late August, shortly after a court ordered his arrest on accusations of tax evasion and money laundering that date back to 2016. His Heart of Tunisia party has said the charges are a politically motivated attempt to quell a popular candidate.

Despite running from behind bars, he won 15.6% of the ballot, beating the prime minister and defense minister, and will compete against another political outsider, law professor Kais Saied, in the Oct. 13 runoff. Several earlier appeals for his release were denied.

Heart of Tunisia is predicted to become one of the biggest parties in parliament following last weekend’s legislative elections, the results of which are due later Wednesday.

(Updates with release in first paragraph.)

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