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The New Arab Staff

Tunisian woman 'sentenced to 176 years' for paying with fake cheques

Using a single counterfeit cheque is punishable by up to five years in prison [Getty[

Date of publication: 5 September, 2020

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Her case has prompted questions over the fate of outgoing Prime Minister Elias Fakhfakh, who resigned last month after allegations of financial corruption.

Police in Tunisia on Friday arrested a woman sentenced to 176 years by a local court for purchasing goods using fake cheques, The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site reported.

The woman was in a property in a town in the northwestern governate of Kef when police tracked her down, according to The New Arab.

Under Tunisian law, a single use of a counterfeit cheque is punishable by up to five years in prison. The woman is alleged to have made fraudulent payments on 50 separate occasions, resulting in her lengthy sentence.

Her lawyer aims to appeal the sentence and reduce the roster of charges to a single case. If successful, the woman still must reimburse the cost of the goods or face up to 30 years in prison.

Amid Tunisia's coronavirus-linked economic downturn and widespread protests against unemployment and inequality, the woman's case has prompted questions about the fate of outgoing Prime Minister Elias Fakhfakh, who resigned last month after Islamists tabled a vote of no confidence in him.

It came following accusations from an anti-corruption commission that he had violated the country’s laws, including financial and administrative corruption, conflict of interest, and tax evasion.

Documents published in June indicated that Fakhfakh held shares in companies that won government deals worth 44 milion dinars (15.4 million US dollars). 

Days after his resignation, the anti-corruption body urged authorities to freeze his funds and block his travel.

Read more: Tunisia's Ennahdha seeks new government as lawmakers urge travel ban on outgoing 'corrupt' prime minister

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