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Tunisia: French photographer dies from injury suffered on day of Ben Ali’s departure

Turbulent times: Some of thousands of Tunisians shout slogans and carry placards, reading: 'RCD Get Out,' on January 19 during a protest in the center of Tunis against the new government. The leadership tried to defuse public anger over the continued power of the former ruling RCD party of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and four ministers pulled out.

Lucas Mebrouk Dolega, a young French photographer working for the European Press Photo Agency (EPA), has died in Tunis’ Rabta hospital from the head injury he suffered when the police are said to have deliberately fired a tear gas grenade at him on January 14.

“Our thoughts are with his family, his partner, and his friends,” Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said. “The circumstances of this tragedy, including the possibility that that he was deliberately targeted by the police, must be properly investigated. We will support any legal action that the victim’s family may decide to take.” It added: “Dolega is the first French photographer to die in the line of duty since 1985, and the first foreign journalist to be killed in Tunisia.”

Dolega, 32, had arrived in Tunisia on January 13, the eve of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s ouster. He was covering protests outside the interior ministry in Tunis at around 2 p.m. on January 14 when he was struck on the head, between the left eye and temple, by a tear-gas grenade. Rushed to hospital, he underwent an operation in the evening.

“What happened is terrible,” an EPA representative, Horacio Villalobos, told RSF . “I think it was a crime, a real murder.”

“After 23 years of dictatorship, the restoration the rule of law in Tunisia requires not only the release of prisoners of conscience but also an investigation to establish the truth about all the crimes and abuses committed during the Jasmine Revolution,” RSF said.

Date posted: January 19, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 123