Two Libyan operatives of Al-Qaeda’s North African wing were sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Tunisian military court Saturday for the murder of two army officers last year, their lawyer said.
Hafedh Dhabaa and Nabil Youssef were on trial for “premeditated murder” along with a Tunisian, a Libyan and three Algerians who are on the run for a May 2011 shootout in which a colonel and a captain died.
Their lawyer Mohamed Jmour told AFP that the two Libyans who appeared in court had each been sentenced to 20 years in jail while the five being tried in absentia were sentenced to life.
Their lawyer had said the men had “neither arms, nor any plans to attack at the moment of their arrest.”
Dhabaa and Youssef deny having weapons or involvement in the shootout in Rouhia, about 200 kilometers (120 miles) northwest of Tunis, admitting only to crossing the border with out-of-date passports.
Tunisian prosecutors had sought the death penalty, arguing that they had admitted during interrogation to using arms “which proves their involvement in the killings”.
The men joined the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in 2006 with the aim of going to operate in Iraq, according to some reports. The group has its roots in Algeria.