A Frenchman and a Tunisian woman were convicted on appeal in Tunis for “public indecency” after an altercation with police who arrested the couple while they were hugging in a car.
The couple, who maintain that they were not kissing, were given a lighter sentence than the original term handed out at their October 4 trial, after widespread outrage on social media and in the press over the incident.
The man was handed four months in prison for “public indecency” and “refusing to obey the police”, with the woman given a two month sentence on the first charge only.
“It’s an independent decision,” a spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office, Sofiene Sliti said.
“What has been reported nationally and internationally is wrong — they weren’t arrested for a kiss, the couple was naked,” he added.
At the hearing Wednesday, the woman collapsed into tears when the court president read a police description saying a sexual act was in process when the couple were stopped on October 1 in a suburb of Tunis.
The woman said that her friend had simply taken her into his arms when the plainclothes police stopped them and made them get out of the car.
A dozen defence lawyers had been arguing for an acquittal for the couple. The majority of the lawyers were working for free on the case, which has triggered an uproar in Tunisia over morality campaigns and police behaviour.