September 12, 2019 / 12:01 PM / 10 days ago

Jailed Tunisian presidency front-runner starts hunger strike

FILE PHOTO: Nabil Karoui, businessman and owner of the private channel Nessma TV, submits his candidacy for the presidential election in Tunis, Tunisia, August 2, 2019. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi/File Photo

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisian‮‮ ‬‬media mogul Nabil Karoui, a front-runner in Sunday’s presidential election, has started a hunger strike in prison demanding to be allowed to vote, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Karoui, 56, owner of the Nesma TV channel, was detained three weeks ago on suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering.

His main rival, among 26 candidates, is Prime Minister Youssef Chahed. Other candidates include Defence Minister Abd el Karim Zbidi, former president Moncef Marzouki, and Abdel Fattah Mourou, vice president of the moderate Islamist Ennahda party.

“Karoui started an open-ended hunger strike since Wednesday to demand his right to vote on Sunday,” his lawyer Ridha Belhadj told Reuters.

Authorities were not immediately available for comment.

A court of appeal is due on Friday to hear Karoui’s request to be released pending a final verdict in his case.

Reporting By Tarek Amara; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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