Investigation demanded after prisoner dies in PA custody

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) calls on the Attorney-General of the Palestinian Authority to disclose the circumstances of the death of Shadi Mohammed Mohammed Shaheen, from the town of al-Bireh in the West Bank, who died on 29 September 2008 while in police custody in the city of Jericho. PCHR also demands a full investigation into the death, with the results publicly published.

Twenty-seven-year-old Shaheen was originally detained by a Palestinian military court order. On 8 March of this year he was summoned by the General Intelligence Service (GIS) in Ramallah, and was interrogated regarding charges of committing “crimes that endanger the safety of internal homeland security.” Shaheen was detained by the GIS until 15 June 2008, when he was transferred to the Palestinian Police Rehabilitation and Discipline Center in Jericho, after an arrest warrant had been issued by the military prosecution.

At approximately 3:00pm on Monday, 29 September, Shaheen’s brother, Ashraf, received a phone call from a police officer who informed him that Shaheen was seriously ill. Ashraf immediately went to see his brother, and he was informed that Shaheen had just died at Jericho Hospital. Shaheen’s family stated that he had been interrogated about firing at the house of former PA Minister of Information, Nabeel Amru.

Brigadier Adnan Dumairi, Public Relations and Information Officer of the Palestinian police, subsequently spoke to a PCHR field worker, and stated that on Monday evening, 29 September, Shadi Mohammed Shaheen died from a sudden deterioration of health. Brigadier Dumairi added that at approximately 11:30am on 29 September, Shaheen was observed as exhausted, and was immediately evacuated by ambulance to Jericho Hospital, where he died.

Brigadier Dumairi reiterated that Shaheen had been detained since 15 June, after an arrest warrant had been issued by the military prosecution. His detention had subsequently been extended by the military judiciary until 26 August 2008. Shaheen’s family, however, claimed his detention was extended until 15 November 2008, and that he had been in detention until his death. The Ramallah police stated that, according to a report issued by the Forensic Medicine Institute, Shaheen died as a result of a pulmonary clot, without any external intervention. A PCHR fieldworker attempted to obtain a copy of the report from the Attorney-General’s office in Ramallah, but was informed that the office has already initiated an investigation into the circumstances of Shaheen’s death.

Shaheen was a member of the Special Units of the Palestinian police. He had been imprisoned in Israeli jails for four years, and was released at the beginning of this year.

Former Minister of Information, Nabeel Amru, stated in a press conference held in Ramallah on 5 October, that he had testified before the Attorney-General about an attempt to assassinate him. Amru stated that, “Today, at 11:00, I went to the office of the Attorney-General, Mr. Ahmed al-Mughanni, and requested him to record my testimony regarding an attempt to assassinate me on 20 July 2004, and he instructed one of his aides to record the testimony.”

In light of the above:

1) PCHR calls upon the Attorney-General to investigate Shadi Shaheen’s death, amidst its concerns that the death might have resulted from cruel treatment or torture.

2) PCHR is also concerned that Shaheen’s detention may be connected to the investigation into an attack against former Minister of Information, Nabeel Amru, and calls upon the Attorney-General to continue the investigation into the assassination attempt that targeted Amru, and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

3) PCHR calls for the report of the forensic medicine institute concerning Shaheen’s death to be publicly published.

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