Tunisia: Contaminated Wheat Shipment Comes From Ukraine (Nawel Mahmoudi)

Tunis/Tunisia — "The shipment of 250 thousand tonnes of contaminated wheat arrived in Tunisia last August from Ukraine and not Bulgaria, contrary to allegations of the authorities", former inspector of the sanitary control service at the borders (port of Sousse) Nawel Mahmoudi said on Thursday.

"Attempts to conceal the origin of the grain reflect the authorities' fear of the presence of traces of nuclear radiation linked to the Chernobyl accident", she added at a press briefing held in Sfax in the presence of a number of MPs and representatives of civil society .

Mahmoudi, who had previously referred to this case, noted that the contaminated grain shipment was not returned to the exporting country but distributed to certain parties, including the Ministry of Agriculture, contrary to the erroneous information disseminated by the public authorities.

Mahmoudi said she detected a bad smell coming from the shipment that arrived on August 25, 2019, in addition to the black colour of the goods, expressing her astonishment at the leniency shown by the port's management and the agriculture and health services.

She also questioned two fires targeting the grain crop that occurred during the harvest season, specifically during the waiting period spent at sea by the two vessels carrying the imported grain shipment.

She added that some sea border control operators do not have business cards, noting the loss of records relating to 10 years of port operations and three cases of suspicious deaths that occurred during June and August 2019.

The former official emphasised the failure to carry out the necessary inspections, the non-application of the required sanitary measures in relation to ships docking in Tunisian ports and the non-compliance of the number of arrivals at the port with the number recorded in the files issued by the countries of departure.

Information circulating for several weeks on social media has reported the import by a private company of a cargo of wheat from Ukraine. The shipment, unloaded at the commercial port of Sousse since August 2019, is said to be contaminated by nuclear radiation, which the Ministry of Agriculture considered to be "baseless false information".

Mahmoudi claimed to have suffered attacks (theft of her mobile phone, physical assaults ...) after revealing abuses and suspicions of corruption that accompanied this contaminated wheat case.

The Committee for Administrative Reform, Good Governance, the Fight against Corruption and the Control of Management of Public Funds in the House of People's Representatives (HPR) initiated an investigation into this issue a few weeks ago, so contradictory statements were made by some officials.

MP representing the Democratic Current (Attayar), Noomane el Euch said the Agriculture Committee will hear Mahmoudi, specifying that it has already heard the CEO of the Grain Office concerning the contaminated wheat shipment.

In addition, Mahmoudi told the conference that she intends to unveil another case of corruption in the field of health which also occurred in Sousse.

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