Tunisian Ennahda politician hospitalised 'in critical condition' after arrest

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Detained Tunisian politician Noureddine Bhiri has been rushed to hospital in a "critical condition", activists and lawmakers said on Sunday.

Bhiri, a former justice minister and deputy president of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party opposed to President Kais Saied, was arrested Friday.

Ennahdha is the largest party in the parliament suspended by Saied in a power grab in July last year.

Bhiri "is in a critical condition, he is in intensive care" at a hospital in the northern town of Bizerte, lawyer and lawmaker formerly with Ennahdha Samir Dilou told AFP.

Bhiri "faces death", the anti-Saied group known as "Citizens against the coup" said on Twitter.

"Kais Saied bears full responsibility for the life of Mr. Bhiri," it said, adding that he had been "rushed to the hospital in a very serious condition".

According to media reports and sources close to the case, Bhiri suffers from several chronic illnesses and had stopped taking his medication or eating since his arrest.

He was taken to a hospital "after his health worsened", MP Saida Ounissi tweeted.

She said Bhiri had been kept in a "secret location" since his arrest, and that no charges had been levelled against him.

Tunisia's independent national body for the prevention of torture (INPT) said on Saturday that authorities had provided no information on Bhiri nor on Fathi Baldi, a former interior ministry official also detained.

The interior ministry on Friday said that two individuals had been ordered under house arrest, without identifying them.

It said the move was a "preventive measure dictated by the need to preserve national security".

Saied on July 25 sacked the Ennahdha-supported government and suspended parliament, presenting himself as the ultimate interpreter of the constitution.

He later took steps to rule by decree, and in early December vowed to press on with reforms to the political system.

Tunisia was the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring revolts of a decade ago, but civil society groups and Saied's opponents have expressed fear of a slide back to authoritarianism a decade after the revolution that toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.


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