January 25, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — An opposition leader detained by Sudanese authorities last week has been reportedly been moved to Port Sudan prison, his family said today.
- Sudanese opposition leader Hassan Turabi talks during a press conference in Khartoum, Sudan, Tuesday May 13, 2008 (AP)
The leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan Al-Turabi was taken into custody following his remarks calling on president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir to surrender himself to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Al-Turabi was believed to be held in the Kober prison in the Sudanese capital until today.
“We went to bring him lunch at 3 pm but the security officer wouldn’t let us in because he [Turabi] wasn’t there” his daughter Omama told Sudan Tribune.
“After numerous phone calls we were informed that he has been moved to Port Sudan prison. However we are not even sure if the government is telling us the truth about his whereabouts” she added.
Sudanese officials have said that Turabi will stand trial within days of his arrest but it is not clear on what charges.
Omama said that Turabi’s lawyer Kamal Omer Abdel-Salam met with the justice minister who told him that he is not aware of any charges pressed against the Islamist leader.
Although it is widely believed that the ICC statements have caused Turabi’s arrest some Sudanese officials have suggested that his links with the Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) is the main reason.
Ever since the ICC move any views in support of the court has been suppressed. With the exception of Turabi all opposition leaders have rallied behind Bashir and condemned the ICC move.
“There is zero tolerance to any attempts to break the national consensus. We will not allow any movements to create instability and confusion” the spokesperson of the Sudanese cabinet Omer Mohamed Salih told reporters last week.
ICC judges are reviewing ten counts presented by prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo in mid-July that include three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder and accused Al-Bashir of masterminding a campaign to get rid of the African tribes in Darfur; Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa.
“He should assume responsibility for whatever is happening in Darfur, displacement, burning all the villages, rapes, I mean systematic rapes, continuously, I mean on a wide scale and the killing” Turabi was quoted as saying.
Omama said the family is concerned if indeed Turabi is moved to Port Sudan prison saying the conditions there “are very poor”.
“There is high humidity there and mosquitoes. The prison there is in very bad shape. We are awaiting confirmation that he is indeed there so we can bring food since he is on a special diet for health reasons” she said.
“Despite his health conditions he was mistreated in Kober. They would drag their feet to let him use the bathroom. It is an attempt to humiliate him” Omama added.
Al-Turabi, a former ally of President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, was the government’s ideological mastermind in the 1990s and the De-facto ruler.
However Al-Bashir and Al-Turabi split ranks and the latter was jailed on accusations of conspiracy. He was released in October 2003.
The opposition leader was jailed again for more than a year in 2004 over accusations of connections with an alleged coup plot before being released in 2005.
Al-Bashir recently accused JEM of being the military wing of the PCP something Turabi has firmly denied. The Darfurian rebels staged a bold attack and fought fierce battles with the Sudanese army on the outskirts of the capital before they were repulsed.
Following the attack Turabi was detained for question but was subsequently released.