January 24th, 2014 Headsman
Ten men were executed at dawn on this date in 1963 in Tunis for an assassination plot against President Habib Bourguiba.
Bourguiba was first president of the independent Republic of Tunisia, having led that country out of French domination in the 1950s … and this plot was the first major threat to his rule. “It is a miracle that I am still alive,” he told a women’s conference at the western city of El Kef after it was discovered on December 19. Kebair Meherzi, an officer of President’s Guard (who was among those executed this date) had been privy to the plot, and intended to admit the assassins to Bourguiba’s own bedside. (London Times, Dec. 27, 1962)
Twenty-six people faced a military trial for this attempted coup in early January with thirteen death sentences handed down — most notably including legendary Arab independence guerrilla Lazhar Chraiti (by now a respected official in the ruling Neo Destour party).
One of those 13 was condemned in absentia, having already fled the country to Algeria — the plotters’ Algerian ties caused Tunisia to withdraw its embassy — while two other army officers were reprieved to life and hard labor.
Also on this date
- 1846: Elizabeth Van Valkenburgh, in her rocking chair
- 1936: Allen Foster, who fought Joe Louis
- 1911: Shusui Kotoku and ten other anarchists
- Daily Double: The High Treason Incident
- 1938: Han Fuqu, Koumintang general
- 1989: Ted Bundy, psycho killer
- 1992: Ricky Ray Rector, "a date which ought to live in infamy for the Democratic Party"