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President issues 'state apology' in Tunisia police rape case

After a week of protests, Tunisia's president has formally apologized to a woman charged under after being raped by two police officers.

Story highlights

  • Tunisian president says the situation is "completely unacceptable"
  • He says the government will not tolerate rapists or those who cover for them
  • The president's statement does not address charges against the woman or her fiance
Tunisia's president has formally apologized to a woman charged under an indecency law after being raped by two police officers, the state news agency reported Friday.
"It is quite unfortunate that such events would happen anywhere around the world and it is completely unacceptable to tolerate such a situation in Tunisia," President Moncef Marzouki said in the statement, according to TAP, the official news agency.
The president offered the woman a "state apology" after meeting with her and a human rights activist, according to TAP.
Marzouki said the government will not tolerate rapists or coverups.
However, he said, officers who came forward to expose the assaults prove there is no systemic problem with the nation's security forces.
The case began September 3 when three police officers approached the woman and her fiance while they were in their car in the capital of Tunis, her lawyer told Amnesty International.
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Two of the officers raped the woman inside the car, while the third took her fiance to a nearby ATM to extort money from him, the woman said.
After she filed a complaint and the officers were charged with rape and extortion, the officers said they found the couple in an "immoral position" in the car.
The woman and her fiance were then charged with "intentional indecent behavior," which could yield up to six months in prison.
Both have denied the charges.
The statement did not mention any resolution of the charges against the woman or her fiance.
The assaults and accusations against the couple angered human rights groups and inflamed public opinion in the birthplace of the Arab Spring movement.
The incident comes after the government angered some critics by rejecting a United Nations recommendation to abolish discrimination against women in areas such as inheritance and child custody.
The government has also charged journalists and human rights activists with public immorality and public disorder in an effort to restrict freedom of expression, critics have said.