Tunisia ex-presidential candidate released on bail

The runner-up in Tunisia's 2019 presidential election despite campaigning from prison, media mogul Nabil Karoui was rearrested in December last year on tax evasion and money laundering charges

Controversial Tunisian media mogul and former presidential candidate Nabil Karoui was released on bail Wednesday after spending two months in custody on money laundering and tax evasion charges, a judicial source said.

"The judge decided to release Nabil Karoui on bail of 10 million dinars (more than three million euros). He must remain at the disposal of the courts," assistant chief prosecutor Mohsen Dali told AFP.

Karoui, now 57, was first arrested in August 2019 after being indicted on tax evasion and money laundering charges stemming from a 2017 investigation.

The business tycoon came second in the first round of Tunisia's presidential polls despite being in prison. He was released days before the runoff in October 2019.

He was rearrested on December 24 over the same affair.

Karoui founded the Qalb Tounes party, which came second in last year's parliamentary elections but now holds 30 of the chamber's 217 seats after a series of defections.

It is an ally of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, which holds the most seats.

Karoui founded Tunisia's main private channel Nessma TV and has presented himself as a candidate for the poor.

He had burnished his reputation in recent years with a charity show on Nessma in which he distributed household appliances to needy families.

Other politicians have often accused Karoui of corruption, and several proceedings have been opened against both him and his television station, which broadcasts without a licence.