Former Minister and officials handed 3 year-prison sentence in hazardous waste import case

Former Minister of Local Affairs and Environment Mustapha Aroui has been sentenced to three years in prison in the case of the Italian waste illegally imported to Tunisia, sources said on Wednesday.

The Criminal Chamber of the Tunis Court of First Instance sentenced three defendants to the same prison term and ordered a Ministry official to 10 years in prison and the owner of the company importing the Italian waste, who is still at large, 15 years in prison in absentia.

On the other hand, 6 defendants were acquitted at a hearing on Tuesday, a source told TAP.

The waste imported from Italy was brought to light in an investigative report broadcast by a private Tunisian TV channel in November 2020, triggering a great controversy in Tunisia.

The case concerns the illegal export of 282 containers of household waste to Tunisia in 2020 by the Italian company Sviluppo Risorse Ambientali, under misleading claims that the waste was treated and would be recycled.

Consequently, Aroui had been dismissed and arrested in December 2020, along with other officials from the ministry and the National Waste Management Agency (ANGED).

The defendants were prosecuted for harming people and public property, forgery and illegal import of hazardous waste.

Tunisia and Italy on February 2022 signed an institutional cooperation agreement on the return of waste to Italy: its country of origin.

The agreement entailed the repatriation of 213 containers of waste, which were stored in the port of Sousse.

There were no information about the fate of the rest of the waste, stored in a warehouse in Sousse and damaged by a fire, and whose reshipment should be the subject of «consultations» between the two sides.

A fire broke out in a warehouse containing 1,950 tonnes of Italian waste in the Mourredine area of the Msaken delegation in Sousse on December 29, 2021.

A judicial enquiry was initiated as soon as the fire broke out, to reveal the reasons for this incident, which occurred at a time when the preparations for the reshipment of this waste to Italy had reached their final stages.

There have been no information about the outcome of this investigation to date.

Source: Tap News Agency

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