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Tunisia: President Saied detains judge at psychiatric hospital amid crackdown

Anti-torture NGO decries the incarceration of judge Bechir Akremi as 'a dangerous precedent' as the Tunisian president oversees a large-scale crackdown on his opposition
Judge Bechir Akremi was detained on 12 February as part of a wave of arrests of opposition figures in Tunisia (Facebook)

The wife of Tunisian judge Bechir Akremi has accused President Kais Saied of incarcerating her husband at a psychiatric hospital after his detention earlier this month. 

Akremi was among dozens of judges sacked by Saied last year over allegations of corruption and supporting "terrorism". 

On Sunday, Akremi's daughter approached the National Authority for the Prevention of Torture (INPT), requesting help about her father's detention. 

In a statement, INPT said that it "regretfully confirms and denounces this dangerous precedent" of imprisoning a judge under these conditions. 

Family members and lawyers have not met with Akremi since last Monday, according to reports in Tunisian media. 

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Akremi is being held at the Razi Razi psychiatric hospital in La Manouba in northeastern Tunisia. 

The head of the psychiatric institution prevented monitors from INPT to meet with Akremi, which is likely to raise fears about his current wellbeing.

'Stifling voices' 

First detained on Sunday, 12 February, Akremi was admitted to the hospital on Friday evening.

Former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, a Saied critic, said the detention of Akremi was "cheap revenge".

"Judge Bechir Akremi is being targeted because he refused the system of dictations and political use of the judiciary," Marzouki wrote on Twitter. "He is a victim of systematic harassment, prevented from defending oneself. This is cheap revenge."

The incident follows a wave of such arrests that targeted prominent public figures, including opposition politicians and a businessman.

Tunisia: Judge threatens to detain Ghannouchi amid wave of arrests
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Earlier on Monday, Middle East Eye was told that a Tunisian judge had threatened to arrest opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi if he failed to appear in court next week.

Ghannouchi, the Ennahda party leader and former speaker of parliament, was summoned to a hearing on 14 February but couldn't attend due to health reasons.

Tunisia's powerful labour union (UGTT) and the opposition have decried the wave of arrests.

UGTT said legal violations were committed in the "arbitrary detentions" which it said the government was carrying out to "stifle voices".

Foreign Minister Nabil Ammar said the arrests were related to the country's national security and rejected the accusation that they were political. 

Saied called those detained "terrorists who must be held legally accountable".

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