Page last updated at 09:12 GMT, Friday, 16 January 2009

Fears grow for Sudanese Islamist

Hassan al-Turabi
Hassan al-Turabi used to be a close ally of President Bashir

The family of Sudanese Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi, 76, say he is in solitary confinement and they are increasingly worried for his health.

He was arrested late on Wednesday after saying President Omar al-Bashir should hand himself in to The Hague to face war crimes charges for the Darfur war.

His relatives say they have not been able to see or speak to him at a state intelligence detention centre.

Judges are deciding whether to issue an international warrant for Mr Bashir.

The BBC's Amber Henshaw in the capital, Khartoum, says tension is mounting ahead of the International Criminal Court decision.

The head of national intelligence recently said foreigners in Sudan could be attacked if an arrest warrant is issued for the president.

Presidential spokesman Mahjoub Fadul confirmed that Mr Turabi had been detained but said he did not know the reason, reports Reuters news agency.

He [Bashir] should assume responsibility for whatever is happening in Darfur, displacement, burning all the villages, rapes
Hassan al-Turabi

A spokesman at Sudan's London embassy said the arrest came as no surprise as Mr Turabi was known to have links with the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement, which he described as a "terrorist organisation".

"This is quite normal as you know in many countries including the United States… people can be arrested for investigation for up to 40 something days," Khalid al-Mubarak told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

Jem leader Khalil Ibrahim used to be one of Mr Turabi's followers.

Mr Turabi was last arrested in 2008, after Jem launched a surprise raid near the capital Khartoum.


Campaign group Amnesty International says Mr Turabi's family have been prevented from giving him his medicine or special food.

Amnesty says he has not been charged with any offence.

Mr Turabi was taken from his Khartoum home just after 2300 local time (2000 GMT) on Wednesday, family members said.

His son, Siddig al-Turabi, told the BBC that he is concerned that intense interrogation could be bad for his father's health.

President Omar al-Bashir
President Omar al-Bashir could face war crimes charges
"Imagine, someone above 70 years detained at this time and questioned for so many hours by maybe more than one committee, which is normal practice. It will tax him heavily," he said.

He said that his father had been hospitalised five times during the three years he spent in prison at the start of the decade.

Mr Turabi said on Monday that President Bashir should hand himself over to the ICC to save the country from possible UN sanctions.

"Politically we think he is culpable.

"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."

He added: "Six million of the Sudanese are now paralysed, no agriculture, no animal farming or rearing. He is responsible and we condemn him."

The ICC's chief prosecutor wants Sudan's president to be charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, accusing him of supporting the Arab Janjaweed militias accused of ethnic cleansing against Darfur's black African population.

Sudan says any charges would be part of a political plot against its leader.

It says issuing an arrest warrant would further destabilise Darfur, where some 300,000 people have died and more than two million forced from their homes during the six-year conflict.

Mr Turabi used to be a close ally of President Bashir but the pair fell out in the 1990s.

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