Tuesday, January 18

Tunisia: Ennahdha strongman arrested Friday hospitalized in “critical condition”

Noureddine Bhiri, then advisor to the Tunisian Prime Minister, on May 8, 2013 in Tunis Fethi Belaid

Former Tunisian Minister of Justice Noureddine Bhiri, a strongman of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, was transferred in critical condition to the hospital in Bizerte (north) two days after his arrest, activists from this movement and deputies.

Arrested on Friday morning, Mr. Bhiri, 63, “is in critical condition, he is in intensive care at Bougatfa hospital in Bizerte,” lawyer and MP Samir Dilou told AFP.

After more than two days of silence, Rached Ghannouchi, head of Ennahdha and to whom Mr. Bhiri is considered close, broadcast on Sunday evening a letter he addressed to President Kais Saied, imputing to him “the responsibility of revealing his condition , to reassure his family and public opinion “.

He stressed that after reports of Mr. Bhiri’s “deteriorating state of health”, President Saied should “allow a medical team and his lawyers to visit him and release him immediately.”

Ennahdha has been at the heart of a standoff with President Kais Saied since his July 25 coup and his decision to suspend the Parliament that this party had controlled for ten years.

The deputy and former secretary of state Saida Ounissi denounced on Twitter the fact that Mr. Bhiri was detained “in an undisclosed place, without any arrest warrant, indictment or judicial authorization”.

During a press conference in Tunis, Mondher Ounissi, doctor and member of the executive board of Ennahdha, indicated that Mr. Bhiri suffered from several chronic diseases, including diabetes and hypertension, and usually took “16 tablets per day”.

He was “deprived of his medication” and “his life is threatened”, he said, calling on “the Red Crescent and international organizations to intervene” in the face of “inhuman practices”.

In a statement to AFP, Said Ferjani, member of the leadership of Ennahdha and close to Mr. Bhiri, denounced “a really dangerous situation for Tunisia and the region” when we see “a former minister treated of this way”. He said his condition was “really critical after three days of not eating, drinking, and taking medication.”

On Saturday, the Torture Prevention Authority (INPT, independent authority) and the Ennahdha party had already protested and worried about the fate of Mr. Bhiri and another Ennahdha leader, Fathi Baldi, also arrested. Friday.

The INPT and the defense committee of Mr. Bhiri denounced the secrecy surrounding the place of their detention and the lack of explanations from the Ministry of the Interior which ordered the two arrests.

The ministry was confined Friday evening to announce two house orders, without giving names, noting a “preventive measure dictated by the need to preserve national security”.

On Friday, the defense committee of Mr. Bhiri had qualified his arrest in front of his home by plainclothes agents of “kidnapping and (of) dangerous precedent marking the entry of the country in the tunnel of the dictatorship”.


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