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Turabi says he was 'badly treated' in detention

Latest update : 2008-05-13

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi said he was mistreated while in custody following the weekend attack by Darfur rebels on Khartoum.

A day after his release from 12-hour detention, Sudan’s best-known Islamist opposition leader, Hassan al-Turabi, said he was mistreated while in custody.

 
“First of all, I have to say I was badly treated in jail,” said Turabi in an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 from the Sudanese capital of Khartoum Tuesday. “A few hours after my arrest, security guards took me into a sort of interrogation office. There, four officials started to interrogate me,” he said.

 
Turabi’s comments came as the New York-based Human Rights Watch voiced concerns that detainees arrested following the weekend attack by Darfur rebels on Khartoum might have been tortured or killed.

 
The attack, the first on the Sudanese capital, triggered mass arrests in the east African nation. Human Rights Watch said it had received unconfirmed reports that at least two of the detainees were “summarily executed in public.”

 
The Sudanese government has denied the report.

 
In and out of high office and jails

Turabi was the most high profile of the detainees. The head of the opposition Popular Congress Party, he has held senior positions in government over the course of his four decades in politics. But he has also been in and out of jails during this period and is currently the arch foe of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

 
Educated at the University of London as well as the Sorbonne in Paris, the Islamist ideologue has had close links with some of the world’s best-known Islamist figures, including Osama bin Laden, who he hosted during the Saudi dissident’s exile in Sudan between 1990-1996.

 
His latest clash with Bashir follows the weekend attacks by Darfur's Islamist rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on a western suburb of Khartoum. Turabi is believed to have been a mentor to JEM rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim.

 
But the Islamist ideologue has repeatedly denied any links or responsibility for the Khartoum assault. “They asked me if I had been involved in the rebel attack against Khartoum,” he told FRANCE 24. “Obviously, I responded simply that I had absolutely no involvement in what had happened.”

 
Khartoum has blamed Chad for the attack and has cut off diplomatic ties with its western neighbour. The Chadian government has denied involvement in the assault.

Speaking about the five year Darfur conflict, which has claimed about 200,000 lives and driven more than 2.5 million from their homes, Turabi said the only solution was a peaceful, democratic resolution.

 “The best solution for the Sudanese government is to resolve the crisis in Darfur in a peaceful manner, without recourse to violence,” he said. “The government also has to respect democracy and accept the power of the ballot and guarantee political rights to its citizens.”

 

 

Date created : 2008-05-13

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