TUNIS – The local press in Tunisia is comparing a two-day wave of arrests for corruption to Italy’s “Clean Hands” operation, which was a sweeping judicial investigation into political corruption in the 1990s.
“In the war against corruption there aren’t alternatives; it’s either corruption or the State, corruption or Tunisia, and I chose Tunisia, as all Tunisians,” said Prime Minister Youssef Chahed.
Chahed has undertaken the operation as head of the country’s unity government, and it has already led to the arrests of tens of notable figures in Tunisia.
The country is currently under a state of emergency that allows restrictions on personal freedom.
It was adopted by the country’s interior ministry and not its judicial branch, citing threats to national security, an umbrella under which corruption is also included.
The first arrests were of two well-known establishment figures: businessman Chafik Jarraya and businessman and former presidential candidate Yassine Channoufi, both of whom were arrested on charges of corruption, embezzlement, and threatening national security.
That unleashed a series of arrests of others from the worlds of business, politics and the black market, whose identities are difficult to ascertain due to specific restrictions in place under the state of emergency.
Local media sources said there are about 50 people targeted to receive pre-trial supervision or custody orders, 36 international travel bans.