A former Tunisian environment minister has been sentenced to three years in prison for his role in illegally importing household waste from Italy, local media reported Wednesday.
Mustafa Laroui was dismissed from his post and arrested in December 2020, along with a number of officials in his ministry, as part of an investigation into this case, which sparked a scandal in Tunisia.
And the media reported that a Tunisian court issued its verdict late on Tuesday evening on Laroui and three other defendants, to three years in prison.
A former official in the ministry was sentenced to ten years in prison and another suspect to fifteen years in absentia, according to the same source.
Six other accused were acquitted.
The case dates back to July 2020 when this household waste, which is prohibited from being imported by law, was transported to Tunisia in 280 containers by a Tunisian company that claimed it was plastic waste to be recycled.
This waste was sent from the Campania region in southern Italy, and 213 containers were stored in the port of Sousse (east) and the remaining containers (67) in a warehouse near this coastal city.
Tunisia reshipped 213 containers stored in Sousse to Italy in February 2022 following a bilateral agreement.
The return of the rest of the waste containers that were damaged by a fire in December 2021 is still under discussion.
The director of the importing company, the mouse, signed a contract with an Italian company to drain 120,000 tons at a price of 48 euros per ton, with a total amount exceeding five million euros.
The case sparked protest movements by residents and local NGOs in Tunisia who rejected their country as Italy’s “garbage bin”.
The case has highlighted a global waste trade that has grown despite strict rules aimed at preventing rich countries from dumping their hazardous waste into poor countries.