The US State Department on Wednesday slammed Tunisia for giving suspended sentences to 20 individuals convicted of attacking the U.S. embassy and burning an American school in Tunis.
Four attackers were killed and dozens were injured in the Sept. 14, 2012 attack, which was blamed on the Islamic groups that sparked violence in Muslim countries worldwide.
Protesters ransacked the U.S. embassy in in their fury over a film denigrating the Prophet Mohammad. The protesters smashed windows, threw stones and started fires in around the embassy.
One protester was seen throwing a computer out of a window, while others walked away with telephones and computers.
The protesters, many of whom were Islamic Salafists, also set fire to the nearby American School, which was closed at the time.
“We are concerned about the suspended sentences. We've long called for a more extensive investigation into this particular case and have not been satisfied to date with what we've seen,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday, according to political blog The Hill. “It was not our preferred outcome here.”
The Islamist protesters in Tunisia were given two-year suspended sentences. The Tunisian government has blamed the Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia for instigating the attack.
The U.S. embassy in Tunis said it was “deeply troubled” by the suspended sentences. “The verdicts do not correspond appropriately to the extent and severity of the damage and violence,” the embassy said, according to The Hill. “We maintain that a full investigation must be undertaken and those who organized the attack and remain at large should be brought to justice.”
The so-called "Arab Spring began on 17 December 2010 with the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor that sparked an uprising and led to the ousting of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali 28 days later. This sparked similar uprisings in much of the Arab world, fueled by economic conditions, but soon becoming anti-Western and pro-Islamist. The attack on the US Embassy was seen as an example of the anti-Western extremism spawned by the conflicts.