Trial of Salafists attacking US embassy in Tunis adjourned

Sentences sharply criticised as being too lenient

TUNIS - The appeals trial of 20 Salafists implicated in an attack on the US embassy in Tunis, whose suspended sentences were sharply criticised as being too lenient, was adjourned Tuesday until March 25.
"At the request of the defence, the hearing was rescheduled for March 25," the judge said.
Only three of the 20 accused were present at the trial, a journalist reported.
The public prosecutor decided last May to appeal the two-year suspended jail terms given to the 20 suspects for their roles in the 2012 attack on the US embassy.
Washington said it was "deeply troubled" by the sentences, which were also criticised as lenient by the Tunisian government.
Hundreds of angry Islamist protesters attacked the US mission in Tunis in September 2012 after an American-made film mocking their religion was published on the Internet, unleashing a wave of violence across the Muslim world.
Four of the assailants were killed and dozens wounded in the violence, which saw protesters storm the embassy and torch a neighbouring American school.
Around 80 suspects are still awaiting trial for their alleged participation.
Tunisia's Islamist-led government accused the radical Salafist group Ansar al-Sharia, led by a former Al-Qaeda fighter in Afghanistan known as Abu Iyadh, of orchestrating the attack, but none of the suspected organisers of the attack have been arrested.
Earlier this month, Washington added Tunisia's branch of Ansar al-Sharia and its fugitive leader, whose real name is Seifallah Ben Hassine, to the US terror blacklist, along with affiliated organisations in Libya.
Since the 2011 revolution that overthrew the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has been rocked by waves of violence blamed on hardline Islamists, who were suppressed by the former dictator.