Benghazi attack: Suspect refuses to speak

2012-12-04 14:41
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Tunis - A Tunisian suspected of involvement in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which the US ambassador to Libya was killed is refusing to be interrogated by FBI agents, his lawyer told AFP.

"They wanted to interrogate him as a witness, but he has refused," Abdelbasset Ben Mbarek said late on Monday, referring to his client Ali Hamzi, and denouncing what he called "interference" in the Tunisian judicial system.

He explained that the attempt to question Hamzi, who was arrested in Turkey and deported to Tunisia in October, took place "in secret" 10 days ago, without his defence team being informed.

The justice ministry said it had no information on the subject, when asked by AFP.

But Fadhel Saihi, an adviser to the minister, told AFP that the Tunisian police were co-operating with US investigators over the attack, on 11 September, which cost the lives of ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

"We are against interference... But what happened in Benghazi against the American consulate was an act of terrorism and the Tunisian state has been called on to co-operate with the American authorities. It is a legal obligation," he said.

"The American authorities, if they ask [to interrogate the suspect], will do so through the mediation of the Tunisian police," Saihi added.

Hamzi, who was arrested in Turkey and transferred to his home country exactly a month after the Benghazi attack on the US mission, has been charged with belonging to "a terrorist group based abroad."

His lawyers have denied US media reports that he was involved in the attack.

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