President issues 'state apology' in Tunisia police rape case

After a week of protests, Tunisia's president has formally apologized to a woman charged under after being raped by two police officers.

Story highlights

  • Tunisian president says the situation is "completely unacceptable"
  • He says the government will not tolerate rapists or those who cover for them
  • The president's statement does not address charges against the woman or her fiance

Tunisia's president has formally apologized to a woman charged under an indecency law after being raped by two police officers, the state news agency reported Friday.

"It is quite unfortunate that such events would happen anywhere around the world and it is completely unacceptable to tolerate such a situation in Tunisia," President Moncef Marzouki said in the statement, according to TAP, the official news agency.

Opinion: Women, free speech, and the Tunisian constitution

The president offered the woman a "state apology" after meeting with her and a human rights activist, according to TAP.

Marzouki said the government will not tolerate rapists or coverups.

However, he said, officers who came forward to expose the assaults prove there is no systemic problem with the nation's security forces.

More: Tunisia's President: 'The extremists are a minority of a minority'

The case began September 3 when three police officers approached the woman and her fiance while they were in their car in the capital of Tunis, her lawyer told Amnesty International.

Tunisian scandal shines light on rights
Tunisian scandal shines light on rights

    JUST WATCHED

    Tunisian scandal shines light on rights

MUST WATCH

Tunisian scandal shines light on rights 03:46
Rape case sparks anger in Tunisia
Rape case sparks anger in Tunisia

    JUST WATCHED

    Rape case sparks anger in Tunisia

MUST WATCH

Rape case sparks anger in Tunisia 02:36
Tunisia's President on protests
Tunisia's President on protests

    JUST WATCHED

    Tunisia's President on protests

MUST WATCH

Tunisia's President on protests 11:17

Two of the officers raped the woman inside the car, while the third took her fiance to a nearby ATM to extort money from him, the woman said.

Rights group: Police rape woman in Tunisia, then charge her with indecency

After she filed a complaint and the officers were charged with rape and extortion, the officers said they found the couple in an "immoral position" in the car.

The woman and her fiance were then charged with "intentional indecent behavior," which could yield up to six months in prison.

Both have denied the charges.

Opinion: Tunisia's response to police rape puts human rights to shame

The statement did not mention any resolution of the charges against the woman or her fiance.

The assaults and accusations against the couple angered human rights groups and inflamed public opinion in the birthplace of the Arab Spring movement.

The incident comes after the government angered some critics by rejecting a United Nations recommendation to abolish discrimination against women in areas such as inheritance and child custody.

The government has also charged journalists and human rights activists with public immorality and public disorder in an effort to restrict freedom of expression, critics have said.

      CNN Recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      North Korea nuclear dream video

      As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
    • Photos: Faces of the world

      Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
    • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

      How to fix a soccer match

      Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
    • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

      15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

      It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.