The former justice minister and deputy leader of Tunisia’s Ennahdha party, Noureddine Bhiri, has been refusing food and medication in hospital, a local human rights group said.

Activists and a former Ennahdha legislator said Bhiri was in critical condition and facing death.
Activists and a former Ennahdha legislator said Bhiri was in critical condition and facing death. (AA)

Tunisia's detained former justice minister Noureddine Bhiri has refused food or medication after his transfer to hospital.

Fathi al-Jari, head of the Association for the Prevention of Torture, said he met late on Sunday with Noureddine Bhiri at a hospital in Bizerte alongside a delegation from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"Bhiri has staged a brutal hunger strike and refuses to take medicine," al-Jari told Anadolu News Agency.

A member of the anti-torture group INPT, asking not to be named, told AFP News Agency on Monday that Bhiri is "lively and lucid."

Since Friday, however, Bhiri has "refused to take any food or medication, prompting his transfer to hospital" two days later, the source said.

He being kept under close observation in a private room of the hospital's cardiology ward. 

READ MORE: Fears grow over whereabouts of detained Tunisia politician

Politically motivated arrest

Samir Dilou, a lawyer and ex-Ennahdha MP, condemned Bhiri's arrest as "political" and an abuse of the justice system.

He told a Tunis news conference that he is lodging a "kidnapping" charge against Saied and Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine.

Bhiri's wife, Saida Akremi, also a lawyer, told reporters he had suffered "a heart attack", and that she was being denied access to him because she refused to sign documents as demanded by security services.

Bhiri, deputy president of the Ennahdha party, which President Kais Saied views as an enemy, was arrested on Friday and his whereabouts were initially unknown.

Ennahdha had played a central role in Tunisian politics until a power grab by President Kais Saied last year.

READ MORE: HRW: Tunisia using 'repressive' laws to suppress criticism against Saied

Source: TRTWorld and agencies