Tunisia policemen get 7-year prison sentences for rape

Tunisia policemen get 7-year prison sentences for rape
Activists protested against violence against women outside the courthouse in Tunis on Monday

TUNIS, Tunisia - Two Tunisian policemen were convicted late Monday of raping a young woman and sentenced to seven years in prison in a case that has captured international attention for the victim.

Earlier in court the two policemen had denied the charge, instead accusing the woman of seeking to have sex with them, provoking an emotional outburst from the alleged victim.

"They denied everything," Radhia Nasraoui, a lawyer of the young woman known by her pseudonym Meriem Ben Mohamed, told AFP.

One of the accused claimed instead that the young woman had tried to perform oral sex, Nasraoui added.

Koutheir Bouallegue, another of the victim's lawyers, confirmed the policemen denied raping her.

"One of them admitted that he masturbated," he said.

After the verdict Nasraoui said she was "very disappointed" and thought it was too "lenient".

Journalists had been barred from attending the closed court session.

Three police officers faced trial over the incident, which took place in September 2012, two of them accused of rape.

The defendants say they found the young woman and her boyfriend having sex in their car in a Tunis suburb.

According to the charges, they then took the woman to a police car, where two of them took turns to rape her, while the third policeman allegedly tried to extort money from her fiance at a bank cashpoint. He was given a two-year prison sentence, a judicial source told AFP.

The public prosecutor tried unsuccessfully to bring indecency charges against the couple, sparking a storm of protest and a campaign of support for Ben Mohamed, who was 27 when the incident took place.

She emerged from the courtroom crying on Monday afternoon, saying: "When I demand justice, they insult me."

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