Tunisian police arrested presidential candidate Nabil Karoui on Friday after a court ordered his detention, the Interior Ministry said, in a case involving charges of money laundering but which Karoui’s party said was a politically motivated attempt to exclude him from the election race, Trend reports citing Reuters.
Karoui’s own Nessma TV channel reported that the candidate had been arrested as he traveled to Tunis, and broadcast a video showing the police detaining him in his car.
The 56-year-old media magnate is one of the main candidates contesting the Sept. 15 election following the death of President Beji Caid Essebsi.
“The indictment chamber charged in the cases of financial corruption decided today to issue two prison deposit cards against Nabil Karoui and his brother Ghazi Karoui,” Saber Horchani, the spokesman for the appeal court, told state news agency TAP.
A judge ordered the detention of Karoui to face charges of tax evasion and money laundering, Mosaique FM radio reported.
A judge decided in July this year to bar Karoui from traveling abroad after weeks of investigation on suspicion of money laundering.
“The police arrested Karoui while we were on our way back from the city of Beja to Tunis,” said Osama Khelifi, a political adviser to the candidate. “They kidnapped the most prominent candidate in the presidential election so that (Prime Minister Youssef) Chahed can win the election in an open way,” he added.