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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 21:48 GMT
Dissident Syrian MP 'refused' treatment

A human rights group in Syria says the authorities are refusing hospital treatment to a jailed dissident legislator who, lawyers say, has been tortured.

In a statement, the Human Rights Association of Syria says the prison authorities were citing security reasons for not allowing the Damascus MP, Mamoun al-Homsi, leave the jail to go to hospital.

Mr Homsi was arrested in August during a hunger strike.

He was demanding more political freedom and an end to alleged white-collar corruption in the country.

He was charged with slander, promoting sectarian violence and illegally trying to change the constitution.

Human rights activists say the dissident lawmaker looked poorly when he last appeared before the court on Wednesday.

Mr. Homsi was arrested following government action against dissidents by President Bashar al-Assad.

Correspondents say his rise to power initially raised hopes for liberalising Syrian politics but, political opponents say he has bowed to pressure from the old guard installed by his late father, former President Hafez al-Assad.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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