Nassim Ouadi, 33-year-old French-Algerian
Pictured: Nassim Ouadi, 33-year-old French-Algerian Source: TIS

A couple in Tunisia was recently sentenced to prison after policemen caught them kissing in the car.

Nassim Ouadi, a 33-year-old French-Algerian, and an identified 44-year-old Tunisian woman were initially stopped by a police car on October 1. 

According to the couple's lawyer Ghazi Mrabet, the two had pulled over in Gammarth, a suburb 20 kilometres north of Tunis, to discuss the route. 

However, according to the police, they were found "in an indecent position".

Both Ouadi and his girlfriend were sent to separate prisons before appearing in court on October 4. 

"They were not allowed to see a lawyer, nor allowed to contact their family, nor [in the case of Nassim] the legal service of the French embassy," Mrabet told Middle East Eye

Following the court hearing, each individual was given a prison sentence on charges of "public indecency, intoxication and insulting a public official", by a judge at the Carthage district court.

Ouadi was given a four-and-a-half-month sentence while his girlfriend was given three months.

The breakdown of the sentence term is as follows: two months for violation of public decency, 15 days for refusal to comply with an order, 15 days for the woman for intoxication, and two months for Ouadi for insulting a public official, according to Mrabet.

Part of Ouadi's prison sentence is based on Article 125 of the criminal code

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticized the "misuse" of article 125 of the country's criminal code, time and again. 

Article 125 of the penal code criminalizes "insulting a public official" - a law that has landed several individuals in prison for arguing with the police.

"Tunisia’s nascent democracy needs to encourage well-founded complaints of police misconduct, not punish them," HRW's Tunisia director said.

The international human rights organization has previously called on the Tunisian parliament to rid of the article "because of the various ways that it can threaten human rights."

The couple's lawyer speaks out

Source: Facebook

Mrabet wrote about the incident in a Facebook post, which has since gone viral, following the incident in which he details the story. 

"After two minutes, a police car arrived, and asked the couple for their IDs," the lawyer wrote

The man did not have his ID in hand, so as he was approaching the trunk of the car to grab his passport from the suitcase, one policeman forced him to the ground. 

"The policemen shouted at him, insulted him and forced him to the ground. He handed over his passport, and they then searched his luggage and then the car, even under the carpets," Mrabet wrote. 

The policemen then searched the baggage and the car before taking the couple to a police station. 

They were released 20 minutes later.

A police officer at the time had warned them that it would not end there.

Ouadi then told the officers, "you think this is going to stop here? I want your names and numbers. I intend to speak to my embassy," which resulted in another charge. 

Social media outrage followed

Some advised people NOT to visit Tunisia anymore

"Would it be a crime if they were fighting?"

"Forgiving corrupt politicians and government officials ... and jailing lovers."

Others called for a "kiss day" in the country in solidarity with the couple

"Tunisians call for a 'Kissing Day' in response to the arrest of a couple. The least we could do is attend and observe."

Tunisia ... "it's almost 2018"