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Tunisia: Former Minister of Justice Arbitrarily Detained

Tunisia Human Rights Watch said today that authorities should immediately release former Justice Minister Nureddin Billy from arbitrary detention.

Plain clothes police Interceived Billi pushed him into his car on December 31, 2021 outside his home in Tunis without presenting an arrest warrant.His family didn’t know his whereabouts until he was Taken to the hospital In Bizerte on January 2, 2022, he remains under police surveillance.Former Home Office employee Fatty Verdi Detained Same day in similar situation. His whereabouts have not been revealed.

“The kidnapping-style detention of Noureddine Bhiri and Fathi Beldi shows that the threat to human rights protection has increased since President Saied gained power last July.” Eric Gould Stein, Director of the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch. “Authorities need to release Bhiri and Beldi now or, if there is evidence of a real crime, prosecute them under the law. It’s that easy.”

Authorities have not disclosed a formal accusation against Bhiri.But on the day he was confiscated, the Home Office issued statement Refers to two unnamed people, probably Bhiri and Beldi, who were detained within the framework of the 1978 emergency order. The judiciary, which normally oversees the indictment, has not commented on either case.

President Saeed Suspended parliament On July 25, he said he needed to take decisive action to strip the exemption members, dismiss the prime minister, and strengthen the country’s lagging economy and Covid-19’s response.

Bhiri, 63, was Minister of Justice from 2011 to 2013 and is a member of the Tunisian bar. Bhiri is also the Vice President of Ennahdha, the largest political party in Parliament, and the head of the Parliamentary Block. Ennahdha denounced President Sayed’s integration of power as a “coup” and demanded that Congress be reopened.

Bhiri is the first since Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, exiled as president in 2011, imprisoned dozens of senior leaders and thousands of members in a full-scale campaign to quell the movement. A high-ranking Ennahdha person detained in.

Billi was with his wife, lawyer Saida Akremi, when police detained him. They confiscated Akremi’s phone as she was trying to use it.

A statement from the Interior Ministry that night said the two were detained as “precautionary measures directed by the need to protect national security.” [Emergency] Decree 78-50 January 26, 1978.

The same night, police escorted Brahim Bouderbala, the head of a Tunisian bar, and visited Bhiri, but Bouderbala Said He could not locate the visit. On January 1, authorities contacted Akremi and told her to bring her husband’s medicine without allowing her to meet her. Bhiri’s leading lawyer, Abderrezak Kilani, told Human Rights Watch.

On the evening of January 2, Bizerte’s family and lawyers learned that he was admitted to the Habibu Bugatofa Hospital in the city of Bizerte after he refused all food and medicine. His family has expressed caution about his health. His wife visited him for the first time on January 5, but Kirani said that guarding the hospital police and his room denied access to his lawyer.

January 3, Minister of Interior Taoufik Charfeddine Press conference He apparently mentioned Billi and Verdi unnamed. Charfeddine, appointed by President Sayed on October 11, described the “incident” related to the illegal issuance of 2013 passports and travel documents, where Bhiri was Minister of Justice, without providing details.

While Charfeddine Said The incident brought about “suspicion of terrorism.” He explained why it was necessary to bypass the normal judicial process and put a person in preventive confinement without prosecution for what was allegedly done nine years ago to protect national security. I didn’t.The next day, the judiciary Said Having been investigating the allegations since December 24th.

One of his lawyers, Latifah Alhabachi, said a man in civilian clothes intercepted Verdi (55) near his home in Tunis on December 31 and pushed him into an unbranded car. I told Rights Watch. The next day, police called Verdi’s brother Hichem and told the National Guard’s post in Borjual Amri, Almanuba, western Tunis, to drop some of Verdi’s belongings. I didn’t reveal the location of Verdi.

On January 5, the family went to the same National Guard post with a lawyer and demanded to see Verdi because there was no news of him since Verdi’s detention. Security forces said that only family members, not lawyers, could see him, Alhabachi said. Security forces ordered the family not to ask where he was detained, and then took Verdi to meet his family in front of the security forces.

Alhabachi said he contacted the courthouse and found no records of the pending proceedings against Verdi, who believed he had not yet met a lawyer. She said his family had not received any documents regarding his detention and did not yet know his whereabouts.

Tunisian authorities have imposed various oppressive measures on opponents, critics and politicians since President Saeed seized extraordinary power on July 25. House arrest, Travel ban, When Prosecution for peaceful criticism.. Bhiri was the first person of his height in Ennahda, and Minister Anouar Maarouf, a member of another party executive committee, said for about three months. House arrest In 2021.

“Authorities have circumvented the judiciary to detain celebrities from the party most critical of the president’s gain of power,” Goldstein said. “We have to threaten more those who have the courage to oppose the president’s seize of power,” he said.

Distributed by the APO Group on behalf of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Tunisia: Former Minister of Justice Arbitrarily Detained

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