Tunisian official caught in act of taking bribe

TUNIS: A Tunisian allegedly caught red-handed taking a bribe was among three regional officials sacked Monday by Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who has vowed to fight graft.

A government statement announced the sackings but did not say why the three were relieved of their duties. A spokesman for a provincial prosecutor said one of the officials had been arrested during a police sting allegedly pocketing money from a businessman who had complained to authorities that he had been asked to pay bribes.

According to spokesman Mohamed Ali Barhoumi, the businessman told authorities the official pestered him with demands for payment for the renewal of the lease for his shop. The suspect allegedly pocketed 500 dinars (around $200) from the shop owner in the police sting operation, Barhoumi said.

Corruption was widespread under longtime President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who was ousted in a 2011 uprising, and has remained endemic since.

Chahed’s government has made fighting corruption a priority since taking office last year, when the head of the national anti-graft body Chawki Tabib warned graft had reached “epidemic” proportions.

Elsewhere, a young man trying to enter the Tunisian Parliament was arrested Tuesday when a scanner at the entrance detected that he had a knife, officials said.

A parliamentary official told Reuters it was not immediately clear why the man was attempting to enter the building. A member of Parliament told local media he was among a group of students who had come to watch a parliamentary session.

 The Daily Star

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