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Journalist assaulted after linking president's relative to deadly concert stampede

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned the physical attacks on journalist Slim Boukhdir after he accused a member of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's family of being responsible for a stampede at a 30 April 2007 pop concert in which seven young people were killed.

"Boukhdir is one of the small group of journalists and human rights activists who have not given up and who wage a daily battle to defend civil liberties in Tunisia," the press freedom organisation said. "As a result, plain-clothes police wait for him outside his home and follow him wherever he goes."

The first attack on Boukhdir was on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, outside the Tunis building where lawyer Radia Nasraoui has her office. Plain-clothes police blocked his way and assaulted him, kicking him and calling him a "traitor" and a "spy."

The second attack took place on 15 May as he left an Internet café. This time his assailant was an individual he had previously seen in the company of the policemen who are in charge of watching him. He managed to find refuge in the nearby offices of the International Association for the Support of Political Prisoners.

Boukhdir linked these attacks to the articles he wrote about the death of seven people at a concert in Sfax (270 km south of Tunis) that was part of Lebanese TV's version of the Star Academy song competition. He blamed the deaths on the negligence of the concert's organiser, who is a relative of the president's wife, Leïla Ben Ali.

President Ben Ali is on the Reporters Without Borders list of the world's 34 worst press freedom predators.

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