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Tunisia convicts dozens of terrorists over teen beheading

By AFP - Jan 10,2019 - Last updated at Jan 10,2019

Tunisians pray before the burial of 17-year-old shepherd Mabrouk Soltani, who was slaughtered and beheaded by terrorists on November 13, 2015, during his funeral in Jelma, a town in Tunisia’s central governorate of Sidi Bouzid, on November 15, 2015 (AFP photo)

TUNIS — A Tunisian court has convicted dozens of extremists over the 2015 murder of a teenage shepherd, but the vast majority remain on the run, a prosecution spokesman said on Wednesday.

Mabrouk Soltani, 17, was beheaded as his sheep grazed on Mount Mghilla in central west Tunisia.

The details of the murder sparked outrage, with the victim’s cousin forced to watch and carry his head to the family home.

A total of 49 people were convicted on Tuesday over the murder, including 45 in absentia, the prosecutor’s spokesman Sofiene Sliti said.

Four were sentenced to death, one of whom is in custody, while the others were sentenced to between 15 and 36 years in prison.

Tunisian courts continue to issue death sentences despite no executions being carried out since 1991.

Those convicted over Soltani’s killing were prosecuted under Tunisia’s 2015 anti-terror legislation.

The murder was claimed by the Tunisian branch of the Daesh group, Jund Al Khilafa, in a video which showed the killing.

Two years later, Soltani’s brother Khalifa was abducted and killed in the same area, in an attack also claimed by Daesh. 

The mountainous area near the Algerian border is also a stronghold of the Al Qaeda-linked Okba Ibn Nafaa Battalion. 

Since its 2011 revolution, Tunisia has experienced an increase in terror attacks that have killed dozens of members of the security forces and at least 59 foreign tourists.

The country has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when an Daesh-claimed suicide bombing in Tunis killed 12 presidential guards.

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