Wednesday, January 19

Arrest strongman of Ennahdha: “suspicions of terrorism in the file”

(Belga) “Suspicions of terrorism in the file” justified the arrest on Friday of the former minister and strongman of the Islamist-inspired party Ennahdha, Noureddine Bhiri, said Tunisian Minister of the Interior, Taoufik Charfeddine , Monday evening.

“There were fears of a terrorist act affecting the security of the country, it was necessary to react”, explained the minister, specifying to have transmitted “reports” to the Ministry of Justice and to the prosecution which “delayed” in take measures. The minister said he then decided to “quickly apply” the “judicial supervision” of Mr. Bhiri, adding that the file characterized by “serious suspicions”, relates in particular to “the manufacture and delivery” of false documents of identity and nationality certificates, among others for the benefit of a Syrian woman. Mr. Charfeddine said he “personally ensured that (Mr. Bhiri) was treated well”. According to a delegation from the Authority for the Prevention of Torture (INPT) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights who visited him, Mr. Bhiri has been hospitalized since Sunday “under close surveillance in cardiology” in Bizerte (north), because he suffers from several chronic diseases (diabetes, hypertension, in particular). He refuses “all food and medicine” and doctors fear his health will deteriorate. He was “lucid” and “not in critical condition” when five delegates from the INPT and the High Commission spoke to him, a member of the delegation who attended the visit told AFP. The Ennahdha party and his wife had said shortly before that Mr. Bhiri was in “critical condition”, in “intensive care” and that there were “threats to his life”. As of Saturday, the INPT and the defense committee of Mr. Bhiri had denounced his placement in detention in a secret place and the absence of clear reasons for his arrest. The ministry had only announced two house arrest on Friday, without giving names, citing a “preventive measure dictated by the need to preserve national security”. An informed source from the INPT told AFP on Monday that he had “no news” from the other arrested, Fethi Baldi, also a member of Ennahdha. On Monday, Samir Dilou, lawyer and deputy for Ennahdha, told the press that the arrest of Mr. Bhiri was “a political affair and an instrumentalisation of justice”, announcing that he wanted to file a complaint for “kidnapping” against President Kais Saied and the Minister of the Interior. (Belga)

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