TUNISIA

Female student dies in residence, guard charged

A guard at a student residence of the Higher Institute for Technological Studies in Qasr Hilal, Tunisia, has been charged with wrongful murder due to negligence of a female student who could not receive timely medical attention because the dorm guard allegedly locked the building and left.

Fatima Al-Qassimi, a first-year student, reportedly was in severe distress, including experiencing shortness of breath and cold hands.

Following an initial investigation by a judge, the decision to charge the guard and issue a detention card was announced by Farid Ben Jeha, the spokesman for the Monastir and Mahdia courts, reported Diwan Radio on 2 October.

Ben Jeha told Shems FM, a private radio station, that a preliminary investigation revealed the guard’s actions might have been one of the reasons for delaying the provision of first aid to the ill student, stressing that a full and complete investigation will be carried out to know all the circumstances of the accident and the causes that led to the student’s death.

“If it becomes clear that there was a negligence that led to a delay in the provisioning of first aid to the ill student, then Article 217 of the Penal Code shall punish the perpetrator of unintended murder by imprisonment for two years,” he said.

Ben Jeha added that the investigating judge attended the autopsy at Fattouma Bourguiba University Hospital in Monastir, awaiting the issuance of the report in the coming days.

Students accused those who manage the residence of negligence and condemned the incident.

Commenting on Al-Qassimi’s death, Laith Al-Khazri, the secretary general of the General Union of Tunisian Students, told AR national radio that about 90% of university dormitories in Tunisia have no medical supervision services to take care of students in emergencies.

What does the ministry say?

The ministry of higher education and scientific research also instituted a probe into the circumstances of the student’s death and pledged to take the necessary measures based on the outcome, according to an earlier statement.

In another statement, the ministry “mourned with great sadness and sorrow the death of Fatima Al-Qassimi”.

However, Union Générale Tunisienne des Etudiants (UGTE), or the Tunisian General Union of Students, issued a statement, condemning the condition of university dormitories and holding the administration of the residence responsible for the death of Fatima Al Qasimi.

The union called on the judicial authorities and the ministry to determine the causes of the incident and hold “accountable anyone proven involved”.

Snake in hallway

In another recent incident, a large snake in one of the dormitory hallways at Sfax University caused havoc in a women’s residence. A video clip documenting the presence of the snake in a residence has been distributed.

The Tunisian General Union of Students at Sfax University (UGTE SFAX), asked in a statement for an investigation into the incident.

The union called on the institutional authorities to take all necessary measures to intensify cleaning campaigns inside and outside university dormitories, in cooperation with the relevant authorities, “to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all students and to provide preventive measures and periodic inspections to ensure that no dangerous creatures infiltrate the university dormitory”.