Tunisia beach massacre case set for May 26: prosecution

A Tunisian police officer stands guard near a bullet hole at the the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel after an attack that left 38 people dead on June 25, 2015 (AFP Photo/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD) (AFP/File)

Tunis (AFP) - The first public hearing into the June 2015 attack in the Tunisian resort of Sousse that killed 38 foreign tourists has been set for next month, the prosecution said Friday.

"The trial on the attack at the Imperial Marhaba Hotel will begin on May 26," spokesman Sofiene Sliti told AFP.

A total of 33 people are being prosecuted in the case, including six members of the security forces who are charged with "not assisting people in danger".

On June 25, 2015, gunman Seifeddine Rezgui killed 38 people, including 30 British tourists and three Irish citizens, in a shooting spree at the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel.

The attack was claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.

The killings have also been the subject of an inquest in Britain.

In February, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith said after several weeks of hearings that the Tunisian police response to the massacre was "at best shambolic, at worst cowardly".

"Their response could and should have been more effective," he said.

A report by a British embassy staff member conducted in January 2015 on security at hotels was also read out in court in London by Andrew Ritchie, a lawyer representing 20 victims' families.

"There seems to be little in the way of effective security to prevent or respond to an attack" from the beach, he quoted the Tunisian report given to Britain as saying.

More than 20 months after the massacre, London still advises against non-essential travel to Tunisia, a restriction Tunis would like to see lifted.

Before the beach attack, more than 400,000 British tourists visited the North African country each year.

Last year, just 20,000 British visitors were logged, official figures show.

The Imperial Marhaba Hotel, which had been closed since June 26, 2015, reopened on Tuesday with the new name of the Kantaoui Bay Hotel.